Caring for a person with Dementia at home is a difficult task and can become overwhelming at times. Each day brings new challenges as the caregiver copes with changing levels of ability and new patterns of behavior. Research has shown that caregivers themselves often are at increased risk for depression and illness, especially if they do not receive adequate support from family, friends, and the community.
One of the biggest struggles caregivers face is dealing with the difficult behaviors of the person they are caring for. Dressing, bathing, eating—basic activities of daily living—often become difficult to manage for both the person with Dementia and the caregiver. Having a plan for getting through the day can help caregivers cope.Bathing may be a frightening, confusing experience for a person who has Dementia. Having a plan can help make the experience better for both of you.
Trying to communicate with a person who has Demetia can be a challenge. Both understanding and being understood may be difficult.
Patience is the key
Keeping the person safe is one of the most important aspects of caregiving. Some people with Alzheimer's disease have a tendency to wander away from their home or their caregiver. Knowing how to limit wandering can protect a person from getting lost.
Make sure that the person carries some kind of identification or wears a medical bracelet.
Consider enrolling the person in the Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return program if the program is available in your area (see "For More Information" to contact the Association). If the person gets lost and is unable to communicate adequately, identification will alert others to the person’s medical condition.
Notify neighbors and local authorities in advance that the person has a tendency to wander.
Keep a recent photograph or videotape of the person with Alzheimer's to assist police if the person becomes lost.
Keep doors locked. Consider a keyed deadbolt or an additional lock up high or down low on the door. If the person can open a lock because it is familiar, a new latch or lock may help.
Install an "announcing system" that chimes when the door opens.
Install secure locks on all outside windows and doors, especially if the person is prone to wandering. Remove the locks on bathroom doors to prevent the person from accidentally locking himself or herself in.
Use childproof latches on kitchen cabinets and anyplace where cleaning supplies or other chemicals are kept.
Label medications and keep them locked up. Also make sure knives, lighters and matches, and guns are secured and out of reach.
Keep the house free from clutter. Remove scatter rugs and anything else that might contribute to a fall.
Make sure lighting is good both inside and outside the home.
Be alert to and address kitchen-safety issues, such as the person forgetting to turn off the stove after cooking. Consider installing an automatic shut-off switch on the stove to prevent burns or fire.
Be sure to secure or put away anything that could cause danger, both inside and outside the home.
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