The Alzheimer’s Association’s “2022 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures” report reveals that 6.5 million people in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer’s disease. More than 10 percent of people aged 65 and older have Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, including frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, and combinations of dementia types.
“As their care needs increase, people with dementia may choose to live in a memory care facility,” reports Nikki Magyar, President of Right at Home Orlando. “Most prefer to remain in their own homes as long as possible, among familiar surroundings and their established support system.”
But, said Magyar, this requires care support, which often is provided by spouses, adult children, or other family and friends. Today, 11 million people are providing this care. They help loved ones with self-care, such as bathing, dressing and using the toilet. They pay bills and handle other paperwork. They coordinate their loved one’s medical care. They provide “emotional labor,” keeping their loved one’s spirits up and depression at bay while coping with personality and behavior changes caused by the disease.
While many caregivers say caring for their loved one is rewarding, dementia caregiving is hard work, both physically and emotionally. “It often affects the caregiver’s career, other family relationships, and their physical and cognitive health,” said Magyar. “And many family caregivers are at an age when they need care themselves.”
Help is available for dementia caregivers.
As their loved one’s condition progresses, it’s important for family caregivers to access support services, which might include:
- Public senior-support services
- Home safety modifications
- Support groups and counseling
- Education and advocacy
- Aging life care professionals (geriatric care managers)
- Respite care
Family and friends also can help. And according to the Alzheimer’s Association report, professional in-home caregivers “play important roles in delaying nursing home placement and reducing repeat hospitalizations.”
Memory care at home
Professional in-home caregivers provide companionship, supervision, and an array of supports to create an environment that meets the needs of client and family.
“Choose a caregiver who is trained in memory care,” advised Magyar. “This creates the understanding that a client’s personality and behavior changes are the result of brain changes, which enables the caregiver to effectively respond to symptoms such as hallucinations, sleep problems, wandering, aggression and anxiety.”
Professional in-home caregivers help in many ways:
Keeping the home safe and suitable for the client’s needs. Caregivers can provide housekeeping and laundry. They can remove fall hazards and provide a watchful presence while still maintaining the client’s sense of independence.
Hygiene support and personal care. Sensitive to preserving the client’s dignity and to normalizing family relationships, trained professional caregivers can assist with toileting and incontinence care, bathing, dressing, and grooming.
Meal planning and preparation. Dementia doesn’t change a senior’s dietary needs, but it does pose challenges to consuming those nutrients. Professional in-home caregivers can shop for groceries and prepare meals and snacks as recommended by the client’s health care provider. They can provide supervision, assistance and company at mealtime.
A day filled with meaningful activities. “Exercise, mental stimulation and spending time with other people all provide a sense of well-being for people with dementia, and can help lessen troublesome symptoms,” said Magyar. “The caregiver and client might do household chores together, listen to music, play games, work in the garden or go for walks.”
Health care reminders and transportation. Many people who are living with dementia have additional chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis or osteoporosis. In-home caregivers can provide health and medication reminders, pick up prescriptions, and transport clients to the doctor’s office and other health care appointments.
Respite for family caregivers. Professional in-home care allows family to take time off for their own needs, confident that their loved one is well cared for. Magyar points out another valuable benefit: “With the professional caregiver providing basic day-to-day care, the person with dementia and family are freed to spend their time together doing things they enjoy.”
The Orlando office of Right at Home is a locally owned and operated franchise office of Right at Home, LLC, serving the communities of Orange, Osceola and Seminole Counties. For more information, contact Right at Home of Orlando at www.seniorcareorlando.com, at 407-757-0981 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org