Tips for the Best in Home Care for Seniors with Dementia
Memory care is one of the biggest concerns for Missouri elderly care today. With the rise in popularity of in home care for seniors, there’s an increased demand for services to keep elders with dementia in their own homes. Aging in place is a popular concept, and for good reason.
We’re here to offer some of our best tips for Missouri elderly care for those with dementia wishing to stay in their own homes. Being a caregiver can be difficult work, and we’re here to support you.
Before we get into those tips, though, let’s get a baseline understanding of the condition we’ll be discussing throughout this piece.
What Does Dementia Look Like?
This is a broad term that describes symptoms that can result from several different causes and diseases. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia in older people. However, there are several other possible causes, and many people experience mixed dementia, which means their symptoms can be attributed to more than one cause.
Common dementia symptoms include:
- Memory loss
- Having a hard time finding words
- Poor judgment
- Wandering or getting lost in familiar places
- Struggling to keep track of bills and money
- Repeating questions
- Using more time for regular tasks
- Having issues with balance and movement
- A disregard for other people’s feelings
- Impulsive actions
These symptoms progress as the disease advances. The speed of this progression varies from person to person, and there are certain treatments that might be able to slow the progression, but there is no cure. The likelihood of needing in home care for seniors increases as the disease progresses.
One common misconception about dementia is that it’s a normal part of aging. While most people experiencing these symptoms are over 60, it is not inevitable that as you get older, you’ll develop dementia — many people live long lives without dementia symptoms.
If you’re noticing any of these symptoms in an elderly loved one, the first step is taking them to see their doctor. Then, you’ll need to work with that physician to create a care plan. You might be able to handle all of your loved one’s needs in the early stages of dementia, but the late stages of these symptoms will require constant care, often with specialized medical knowledge.
Benefits of Aging in Place for People Living with Dementia
Before we jump into some of our best caregiving tips, let’s establish why in home care for seniors is a good idea in the first place, and why it’s one of the more popular forms of Missouri elderly care today.
The most obvious benefit is that keeping your loved one in familiar surroundings can be comforting to them. Alzheimer’s disease and the other possible causes of dementia affect the ability to make new memories, but older ones are often still in tact, especially in the earlier stages. Sometimes it’s necessary to move a loved one into a specialized place where they can care for all of their needs. However, that decision is often difficult and emotional for families, and they’d prefer to not have to make it.
Whatever decision you make, it’s important to be up front with everyone involved with in home care for seniors. Make sure no one feels left out or in the dark. It’s a respect thing at the end of the day. All interested parties want to know that their feelings and input are valued and taken into consideration.
One way to get everyone on the same page is to hire a geriatric care manager. These are professionals trained in the specifics of Missouri elderly care and helping families create care plans for their aging loved ones. It can be helpful to have a neutral third party in the room who’s going to stay objective and who can help diffuse disagreements.
Find the Right Kind (and Amount) of Help
You might think you can take care of your loved one better than anyone else. As their needs progress, though, you will probably get in over your head. Caregiver burnout is a real concern with Missouri elderly care. You want to be sure you’re bringing your best to your loved one, and getting good outside help can make that easier on you.
The right kind and amount of help will change over time. That’s one reason why it can be a good idea to employ an agency that handles in home care for seniors. They should be able to be flexible with the caregivers they send.
Enabling vs Helping
It’s only human that you’d want to make sure your elderly loved one is comfortable and enjoying their golden years as much as possible. However, there’s a difference between proper in home care for seniors and enabling them to be overly dependent on you.
Fostering a sense of safe independence is an important part of Missouri elderly care (or elderly care in any other state, for that matter). Encourage them to do what they can. Of course, you should check with their doctor if there’s any questions about what’s safe for your loved one to take part in.
And even when they can’t participate in the main activities of day-to-day life as fully as they used to, they might be able to take up a new hobby that suits their current capabilities. Mental exercise and staying busy is a great way to stay as sharp as possible, and those are definitely things Missouri elderly care can help with.
Don’t Count Out Companionship
When you employ in home care for seniors that’s specially trained in memory care, they’re experts on how to effectively and kindly deal with your loved one living with dementia. Reminiscing over photo albums or scrapbooks, or just talking about the old days, can be an enjoyable activity for those with dementia because they tend to remember things that happened a long time ago better than things that happened recently.
The companionship portion of in home care for seniors covers a lot of different tasks that increase an elderly loved one’s quality of life. It’s a critical component of Missouri elderly care, even if it doesn’t seem like much more than keeping them company.
Make Home Safe
There are certain adjustments and improvements you can make to your loved one’s home to make it easier for them to get around and harder for an accident to happen. You can have a professional in Missouri elderly care come out and assess the home for any potential hazards or areas for improvement, and then you can get to fixing them. This is a form of in home care for seniors that some people don’t think about, but it’s super important to keep in mind.
While it’s great to have an individualized plan for making sure where your loved one lives is as safe as possible, there are also some common steps pretty much anyone can take. For example, adding nightlights in hallways from your loved one’s bedroom to the bathroom, removing or affixing area rugs to prevent tripping, and installing grab bars in key places in the bathroom.
There’s another great source of information for what your loved one needs: Your loved one, of course! Ask them if there’s anything in their house giving them trouble, or if there’s anything they’d like to have that would help them out.
Help Them Stay Active
It can be difficult to find activities for folks with dementia, especially in the later stages of the disease. However, helping them to keep moving in appropriate ways is great for their health and a good goal for in home care for seniors.
Take a walk with them, put on music they like and see if they’d like to dance with you, or lead them in some light stretching. Keep in mind that several brief stints of physical activity a day are likely going to work better for your loved one than one typical workout. Helping them get started or doing the activity with them can really help.
Also, rethink what you consider exercise. Activities like housework can be good movement and occupation for those living with dementia. If walking or being on their feet isn’t an option for your loved one, then consider activities like a stationary bike or throwing a balloon or ball back and forth.
When we’re talking about Missouri elderly care, we also have to keep the climate in mind. Outdoor activities are great when the weather’s nice. However, be careful of cold or icy conditions in the winter and excessive heat in the summer. Due to certain changes in our bodies as we age, older adults are at higher risk of heat-related illnesses, so keep them inside when the temperature and humidity climb.
Plan for the Future
Most experts in the field of in home care for seniors recommend getting your loved one’s affairs in order while they can still make those decisions for themselves and communicate them to you. Planning for the future can include things like getting permission to talk to your loved one’s doctors and lawyers, if needed. Keep on top of Missouri elderly care rules and regulations so you know what kinds of permissions you need.
Find all of your loved one’s important paperwork and organize it, making sure it’s easy to access when you need it. These documents can include lists of medications, financial records, and documentation of personal details. You can find a more complete list of recommended documents to keep track of here.
Part of planning for the future is also learning what you can about their dementia and its causes. Do your own research and ask your loved one’s doctor if you have any questions. That way, you should be more aware of what is to come as the disease progresses.
Don’t Forget to Care for Yourself
No one can provide all the care someone living with dementia needs all on their own. It’s great if you’ve got other family members or friends who can jump in and provide some additional support, but hiring in home care for seniors is also a valid option. The right professionals will be able to offer a high standard of care for your loved one. Missouri elderly care agencies work to match the right caregiver with each client, so you shouldn’t worry about finding a good fit.
One of the big perks of employing regularly scheduled in home care for seniors is that you can count on a break at those times. That way, you’ll have perfect opportunities to go to appointments, see friends, or just take a few hours to yourself. You can do all of this without worrying that your loved one won’t be taken care of.
Even if you don’t have the help of a Missouri elderly care agency in your corner, you should still try to take breaks each day. Fitting in some exercise, meditation, or even a quick chat with a friend can help relieve some of the stress that comes with being the primary provider of in home care for seniors.
There are plenty of rewarding parts of caring for a loved one living with dementia, but there are difficult aspects as well. Reaching out for help and making some time for yourself can help you bring your best self to the job. Some of that further help might come in the form of a caregiver support group or reaching out to a mental health professional. Whatever you find you need, make sure you’re not forgetting about yourself in the midst of caring for a loved one.
We’ve Only Scratched the Surface of Missouri Elderly Care
Now that you know more about how in home care for seniors can help your loved one living with dementia, you should be ready to make the right decisions about their care.
If you’re interested in hiring an agency for in home care for seniors, consider us here at Seniors Home Care. We’re a Missouri elderly care agency that’s based in the St. Louis area. You can read through the kinds of services we offer here and learn more about our core values here. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to start a conversation about your loved one’s needs.
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