Looking after someone with Alzheimer’s, if you want them to stay at home, requires some forward thinking. Here are some ideas for you to consider. Disregard what you do not need and take what you find useful.
I believe it is social services that can assess your home or they will outsource it to a service provider. They will be able to advise you what is available. Bearing in mind you need to make your living environment as safe and risk free as possible, go round with a pen and paper and list the things that you believe could be done, without involving much cost. There maybe one or two things you can deal with yourself easily. E.g. Remove any rugs that may encourage tripping and falling. Make a list of what you require and set about sorting it out.
For example: If you have stairs and your loved one is in early onset Alzheimer’s climbing the stairs may now require an hand rail from top to bottom. A raised seat on the toilet is useful, a mobility toilet pan as sit to stand become impaired. Invest in a wheel chair or ask anyone who has a spare one you can use to take them out if that is still possible. Also required for outings; blanket, pee bottle, water and snacks for outings. Spare incontinence pads, throw away wipes available from any local mobility shop, but I believe social services may provide the pads but not the rest possibly.
A care team can come into your home daily, to assist with their daily washing and dressing as things become difficult for them. Allowing someone else to help can be hard at times but it is useful. I knew my dad, so when a new person was around I educated them in how to get the best out of him if they were struggling.
Consider a sitter’s service, social services have access to this in the early stages of the disease so you can pop out for an hour and take a breather.
Think about engaging and organizing visits to a Day Care center. The centre sends a bus that arrives to collect your loved one for the day, in order for you to be able to continue caring 24/7. You can increase this to a few times a week if you wish. Even though it can be heartbreaking to send them off, it is stimulating for them while they are there. Find it within yourself to let them do their job, it will be useful to you but make sure they have your contact numbers in case of emergency.
Prepare meals a few days ahead so that cooking is not a major daily nightmare and if you have family try to keep them involved to share the load. Cherish the shared memories.
Avoid isolating yourself, educate your friends and get them to drop in to see you and your loved ones. Keep your interests in order for you to be able to keep giving without becoming resentful. It will feed your soul and you will keep a renewed energy about you that is required to deal with this disease.
At some stage as Alzheimer’s closes another part of the brain and our loved ones ability to physically function will then become impaired, until it’s closed for good. Therefore, consider the fall risk involved. Do you need some hand rails around the place, in the bathroom? Is there any funding for a bath seat to be put in, you will need to research the availability around this. Sit to stand and stand to sit becomes difficult with age because of reduced leg strength and brain cells depleting. If they should fall down, call the ambulance and do not pick them up yourself. Remember that when people fall they become a dead weight and it is not appropriate to injure your self in the process when you could call an ambulance. Should this happen and you have to go to hospital educate A & E that your loved one has Alzheimer’s.
Self care is paramount through out this whole journey. At some point your loved one may become bed bound, so in order for you to be able to continually care consider there may be a need to bring the bed downstairs. Is this practical or is it time for a wiser decision at this stage? Think about the longevity of the situation and it’s a process to be aware of regarding end of life care.
Should you take the approach and continue to keep them at home, think about the bed being close to the floor and investing in a sensor mat, so if they awake, and put their foot on the floor you are aware and fall risk is reduced if you act.
Playing music helped me to keep my dad as peaceful and as calm as I could but I chose music that did two things. One, that resonate with him and the other that would have a calming effect not only on him, but also on others around us.
Structure the day as much as possible and build in stimulation exercises while they are useful. A friend would pop in with a pet dog and my dad loved that, so what does your parent love and what can you build into this journey that makes a difference to them.
When you are moving a loved one from point A to point B before their motor skills diminish completely, use a firm loving voice and instruct them for example. 123 Stand up I would then assist to standing then do the next bit in bite size chunks. It reaffirms and using positive affirmations builds their confidence not only within them while they are able but them in you. You will find your own way with this and don’t be frightened to trust your instincts.
Avoid getting into any arguments or challenging what they say wrong, just gently steer them in the right directions. Use a thread of what you know about them and go from there
Go to my blog on the website www.justcallmereg.com and read Alzheimer’s disease No one is immune regarding the stages that will present themselves as parts of the brain close down and what individuals and loved ones will experience at each stage and what lies within the journey ahead. For those of you who access Facebook via i-phone, HTC etc, the link is http://www.facebook.com/Alzheimers-My-Experience. If you have found this to be useful, please go to the link above and watch our video on our Facebook Page and Like our page.