Dementia Care: Hard on Them, Hard on You

Over five million people live with Alzheimer’s Disease in the U.S. What makes that figure even more staggering is that Alzheimer’s is not the only type of dementia affecting elders. When you consider the number of people who struggle with dementia of all kinds, that figure balloons. Being the caregiver for a loved one who is ill can be difficult. Dementia care adds another dimension. Dementia is usually progressive. That means we lose a bit more of our loved one every day. Communication is harder. Daily activities like bathing and caring for teeth can become confrontations.

dementia care

Reminiscing together may be a comfort to your loved one, as long-term memories are often retained.

Living with dementia can be hard on your loved one and on you, the caregiver; a few hints might help lighten your task.

There are reasons for behaviors like emptying a pots- and- pans drawer or sleeping on the floor. Maybe the person is feeling useless and needs a purpose. Folding washcloths could satisfy that need. Perhaps she is frightened of sleeping in a “high” bed and feels more comfortable on the floor where she can’t roll off. Look for the cause of a behavior and then try to accommodate it, not control it. There are worse things in life than sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Behaviors like tantrums can be terrifying for the adult and for his caregiver. Watch for “triggers” that seem to accompany the behavior. Perhaps there was a change in his routine or someone used specific words that elicited fear or anger.

Wandering is a major concern for the caregiver of a person with dementia. You might try placing alarms on the doors, or changing latches to be more challenging. Another idea is to set a regular exercise time, or a daily walk with you. One novel idea is to paint a black square or place a black mat on exit thresholds. The wanderer may perceive that as a barrier or a deep ravine that cannot be crossed.

Communication with a loved one who has dementia is hard–and becomes harder as the condition progresses. Remember that your attitude and body language telegraph a lot of information without saying a word. Get the person’s attention by saying her name and touching her. Then keep it simple. If you have to ask questions, keep the answers “yes” and “no.” If you are offering choices, show them: use the actual object or pictures and be patient while waiting for a response. Remember the person for whom you are caring is still the person he or she always was. Reminiscing may be comforting and enjoyable for both of you. Short-term memory almost always fails, but long-term memories may still be intact.

Caring for someone with dementia is exhausting physically and emotionally. Fatigue and frustration can make you resentful. Eventually, you might find it to be more than you can manage. When that time comes, a senior care service provider can save your health and your relationship with your loved one. In-home respite care can give you some free time, knowing your family member was safe and cared-for; live-in care could allow your loved one to remain in a familiar environment and free you to pursue other activities again.

Contact us if you have questions about how we could help you live more successfully as a caregiver for someone with dementia.

Senior Care Services: No Guilt Trip

Did you know that one in five Americans is a caregiver? It’s true; twenty percent of us care for an elderly or disabled person at home. We try to be super-human and balance our jobs and family with caregiving duties, but that seldom works. Caregivers burn out. They get frustrated and angry, they have more sick days and they are exhausted. Added to that, most caregivers of people 65 or older are in their 60s themselves. That means they may be dealing with some age-related arthritis or other health issues themselves.

senior care services

An in-home caregiver can provide socialization for your loved one, while protecting you from caregiver burnout.

If you are one of the twenty percent, you may have considered arranging for senior care services but you feel guilty at the prospect of hiring someone to help. You feel justified in having someone administer medications or lift your loved one for baths, but the idea of someone who will come and “just sit” makes you uneasy. After all, you are there and you can visit with your loved one, you can do dishes and vacuum, you can give massages and treat wounds.You can give adequate care without the added expense of in-home senior services.

Well, first, in-home caregivers seldom “just sit.” They read to the patient to keep them alert or they visit to give them socialization. Beyond that, the service caregivers can help with light housekeeping. That is where the guilt often surfaces. After all, if you are there, why let someone else do the work…and why pay to have it done?

The answer is simple: it will keep you from burnout and the associated illnesses it brings. Seventy-five percent of family caregivers are women, and women need more socialization. In short, you need to get out from time to time. In addition, the service doesn’t provide all the care. You do a lot. You are the “first responder” in the morning and the one who answers the call at two a.m. You are more likely to be obese than the general population. Wounds heal slower and you get depressed easier. Added to this, the resentment you may feel from being “boxed in” by your caregiving duties can lead to an unhealthy relationship with your loved one.

Insurance companies don’t usually cover custodial help. Still, the expense might be just as justifiable as a routine medical exam or a gym membership. It is preventative treatment. The cost may be less than treating burn-out related illness. If you are the one-in-five, that is something to consider.

If you would like to know more about in-home senior care, contact us. Let us show you how, instead of a “guilty pleasure,” it might just be a “stitch-in-time.”

Providing Care at Home Can Be Fun

Something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment or for something entirely different. The only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better.

care at home

Caring for a senior is certainly hard work, but that shouldn’t prevent you both from having fun, too.

This quote is from Thefuntheory.com website and applies to everyone.

No one ever makes reference to the daily care at home given to the elderly as “fun”. As we all agree, work is not fun but making work “fun” is possible.

When a professional in-home care provider arrives, there is usually a set of duties planned to get completed during that shift. No time for fun here, or is there?

As a family member providing home care for your loved one, you wear your no-nonsense hat to work. But does that mean no fun allowed?

Making duties a little more interesting and fun will benefit both you and the person needing the care. You’ve heard the saying “Time flies when you’re having fun”. You can put that to the test.

You may have an uncooperative recipient of your services and fun might just bring them around. A smile, a chuckle or a full roar of laughter can change the environment you work in and your client lives in. Yes, it may take a few extra minutes but it will be a benefit.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Bathing

  • Lay out 4 towels and 4 matching washcloths of different colors on the bed. Pick a color and let your client find that color and the matching washcloth. That will be your color for the day.
  • Place a few hairbrushes and combs in a container short enough for them to stand on end and be visible. Have your client pick out either all the combs or brushes.
  • Keep 3 or 4 toothbrushes in the holder. Let the client pick out the color of the day or their favorite color. Give them a cup to spittle in over the sink and laugh when they miss.

Dressing

  • Lay out a few pairs of socks and unmatch them. Let your client find a matching pair or finish matching them all if they want.
  • Lay out a short-sleeved and long-sleeved shirt and ask your client to decide which is best for the weather outside.
  • Lay out men and women’s undergarments. Hand them the opposite sex item and laugh.

As the care provider, it rests on your shoulders to set the mood for you and your client. All your clients, including those with mild dementia can benefit from these exercises helping to stimulate the mind and muscles.

Here at Endeavor Home Care in the Phoenix area, we provide professional, friendly caregivers that can bring a smile to your loved one’s face. Contact us to help place the right caregiver with your family.

Senior care and a simple solution to health-care-associated infections (HAIs): handwashing.

It seems like a simple solution to healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), but hand washing remains one of the single-most preventatives as outlined in a 2014 strategy updates for acute care facilities, and a policy that applies to in-home care providers as well.

senior care

Hand-washing is still one of the most effective measures to take against the spread of infection.

In addition, notes the report, performance in these and other areas are being measured to assess outcomes centered on the prevention of healthcare associated infections, which can be a primary concern for senior care providers.

Infections were categorized by their prevention recommendations and given a low-to-high ranking based on the evidence gathered.

A focus on implementing specific methods of intervention proven to mitigate HAI situations, particularly during the initial outbreak of infections are determined.

By turning attention to locations in the hospital at high risk for HAIs, or certain categories of patient diagnosis, prevention strategies can be initiated throughout the entire hospital.

“Basic practices include recommendations where the potential to impact HAI risk clearly outweighs the potential for undesirable effects….Special approaches include recommendations where the intervention is likely to reduce HAI risk but where where there is concern about the risks for undesirable outcomes, where the quality of evidence is low, or where evidence supports the impact of the intervention in select settings…or select patient populations.”

Primary considerations for basic approaches include common areas that could preceded an instance of infection. As such, a few of the ongoing contributors to HAIS include:

—pneumonia caused by ventilator gateways

— Clostridium difficile infections

— Infections around surgical sites

— UTI infections associated with catheters

Always on the radar, too, are routines associated with daily useage of syringes and needles; in the latter case the concern is the re-use of these items; also, the lapse in judgement is suspect when a single vial of medication is considered ‘ok’ to use for multiple patients.

Looking for home care for your aging parent, or family member? Contact us to learn more about our care-giving services.

Preparing a Senior to Accept In Home Care

It is common for an aging adult to no longer be able to live alone in their home without assistance. Most people don’t want to admit their age is affecting them and that they need help. Often they fear losing independence if they acknowledge they need help. Some seniors may fear family members will remove them from their home and move them to an assisted living facility. In reality, in home care is a wonderful solution allowing a senior to maintain independence in their own home but providing the assistance needed to complete daily tasks.

in home care

Highlighting the positive aspects of in-home care will help ease the transition.

If you have a loved one who is showing signs that they can no longer live on their own, make sure you maintain frequent contact. This will allow you to monitor and assess the living situation to verify that you are correct in your evaluation. In addition, consider talking about the living arrangements with other family members to see if everyone has the same point of view. Make sure all family members are on the same page before you broach the subject with your loved one. This way when the elder discusses in home care with any family member the response will be consistent.

It is best to make your case that in home care is needed by providing specific examples. If your loved one is forgetting to take medications or having difficulty preparing meals express your concern for their well-being. Cite ways in which day to day life has become too difficult for the elder and how burdens can be eased with assistance. Highlight the ways in which the in home care will be helpful to your loved one. In addition, emphasize that in home care will provide companionship as well as assistance. For additional information about in home care for your loved one and how to prepare them to accept the assistance they need contact us.