“In 2012, 15.4 million family and friends provided 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer's and other dementias — care valued at $216.4 billion, which is more than eight times the total sales of McDonald's in 2011. Eighty percent of care provided to seniors with dementia is provided by unpaid caregivers,” reports the Alzheimer’s Association.
Paying someone to help with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s isn’t always an option in the early stages of the disease. Not only are the costs exorbitant, but there is something intimate and personal about caring for matters that involve a breakdown of the mental faculties. Alzheimer’s puts a strain on everyone involved: worry, embarrassment, fear, sadness, frustration, and exhaustion are just a few of the feelings that are experienced in the spectrum of this disease.
As an in home caregiver, your love and dedication to your family member is commendable and unparalleled. There is no better expression of love than when someone puts it in action in such a practical and tangible way. Here are some practical tips to help you care for your loved one:
Just like you would childproof your home if you had a baby or toddler, latch cabinets that may have dangerous items inside and ensure that your home is secure so your loved one will not wander out the door. You also may want to install an automatic shut off valve on the stove and remove locks on bathroom doors so you loved one will not get trapped inside.
As soon as you are able, start to make plans as to how to care for your loved one in each stage of their dementia. Ensure that you know where are the important documents are, research nursing homes, and organize a folder so that any final wishes can be fulfilled.
Search for adult day care or respite care services in your area. So many caregivers devote every ounce of their energy to their loved one and become exhausted and overwhelmed. When you take time for yourself to renew, refresh, and recharge, you will be able to care for your loved one better.
Many times dementia effects coordination, so take a critical look at what obstacles may arise and how they can be avoided. You may want to declutter your home, remove furniture or throw rugs that can be a tripping hazard, or get cups with lids and straws to prevent spills. There are also foam cushions that can be fitted to sharp corners of coffee tables or dressers if your loved one happens to fall (you can find these at any major superstore in the baby sections).
Caring for someone with dementia is difficult, but knowing how to prevent stressful situations can make the job much easier. Implementing these few simple steps can make all the difference!