Respite Care For Alzheimers Caregivers
Respite care is temporary assistance provided to the primary caregiver to allow them a break from caring for an individual with Alzheimers or dementia. It can be provided in the home, in an adult day care center, or sometimes in an assisted living residence or other residential setting. Respite care is sometimes provided free of charge or other times at a greatly reduced hourly rate. There are many different organizations and programs offering respite care services. It is worth noting that often times these are home care companies selling home care and marketing it as respite care even though they are charging the full hourly rate.
There are also federally funded programs that provide reduced rate or free respite care, such as the Lifespan Respite Care, the National Family Caregiver Support Program, as well as programs specific to individual states including Floridas Project R.E.L.I.E.F., New Jerseys Statewide Respite Care, and Connecticut Statewide Respite Care Program.
How To Identify That A Person Needs Help
Setting a diagnosis is the doctors task. But you may suspect that your loved one has signs of dementia if you notice that he or she:
- often loses essential things or puts them in strange places
- often asks questions again, forgetting the answer that was just received
- confuses time or is lost in a familiar place
- experiences difficulties with concentration and is mistaken in monetary calculations
- cannot learn simple instructions for example, how to turn on the washing machine or microwave
There are other signs of dementia: for example, if a person suddenly changes in character, behavior, or has mood swings for no reason. Already in the early stages of Alzheimers, an active person may suddenly become apathetic, lose any initiative, and stop enjoying even their favorite activities.
Later, as dementia progresses, some patients become irritable, impatient, or impulsive others become restless and even aggressive. A person can have delusional thoughts . Disruption of the brain processes leads to the fact that their behavior ceases to be conscious. The patient does not recognize his relatives and gradually loses the ability to understand speech.
So, what to do with elderly parents that need help?
Have Regular Family Meetings
Sit down on a regular basis to talk about how caregiving is impacting the family as a whole. Talk about the impact of the seniors condition on the family and address stress points and difficulties. Meet with a therapist or case manager if that will help to solve grievances.
Here are a few more ways to hold a successful meeting of the minds:
- Create an agenda for the meeting
- Try to stick to the facts rather than expressing personal opinions
- Following the meeting, send a summary to all interested parties
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Seeing A Psychologist About Dementia
Psychologists work to assess, diagnose, treat and support individuals with dementia and to lighten the burden on the families that care for them.4 Psychologists have developed methods for measuring memory capabilities to assess what is likely normal aging versus the first signs of dementia. They can also help sort out when memory loss might be associated with treatable causes like depression or sleep disturbance.
Psychologists help minimize the changes in mood and behavior associated with dementia and work with the family to design living environments, provide tools and put procedures in place that allow a person with dementia to function well. Psychologists also facilitate communication among family members to help identify preferences for things like support services, such as home health aides financial and legal planning and day-to-day activities early on. Once the person with dementia is no longer able to make decisions on their own, the psychologist can help families implement these plans.
In the earliest stages, individuals with dementia as well as their family members may experience anxiety, sadness and even depression. Psychologists can provide strategies to manage these emotions. As the dementia progresses, psychologists can assist caregivers and families by helping them maintain their loved ones quality of life.
Keep Your Mind And Body Healthy
Staying active has proven health benefits and may help ease dementia symptoms.
Being physically active, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and spending time with family and friends offer proven benefits. They may also help slow the symptoms of Alzheimers disease and related dementias.
- Exercise. You dont have to join a gym or spend a lot of money. Even light housework, gardening, and walking around the neighborhood can have benefits. Experts recommend both aerobic exercise and strength training . Learn more about exercise and physical activity.
- Eat right. A healthy diet is proven to influence heart health, which relates to brain health. Learn more about healthy eating.
- Sleep well. Lack of sleep and poor-quality sleep are linked to memory problems. Try to get 7 to 8 hours per night.
- Be mindful. One way to help manage stress and reduce anxiety and depression is a technique called mindfulness. Mindfulness is being aware of whats happening in the present, both inside and outside of your body. This web page and handout offer overviews of mindfulness in daily living.
- Stay social. People with dementia who live alone dont manage daily activities as well when they feel lonely. Join a support group, chat with someone regularly, or volunteer at a local school or community organization. For example, you could read to children at the library. For more ideas, visit Participating in Activities You Enjoy.
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Legal And Financial Planning Resources For Low
Families who cannot afford a lawyer can still plan for the future. Samples of basic health planning documents are available online. Area Agency on Aging officials may provide legal advice or help. Other possible sources of legal assistance and referral include state legal aid offices, state bar associations, local nonprofit agencies, foundations, and social service agencies.
Medicaid & Hcbs Waivers And Alzheimers Care
Medicaid is a state and federally funded health insurance program for low-income families and the elderly. Each state administers their Medicaid programs separately. Therefore, each state offers different benefits with regards to caring for individuals with Alzheimers or dementia.
Medicaid Waivers are state programs that allow individuals to receive care outside of nursing homes. Instead of requiring institutionalization, Medicaid Waiver participants can receive care, paid for by Medicaid, in their homes, the homes of relatives, and sometimes in adult foster care homes and assisted or senior living residences. Almost all Medicaid Waivers have both financial eligibility requirements and requirements that the participant have functional limitations. Very few, require a specific diagnosis of Alzheimers or dementia. Instead, they consider ones ability or inability to care for themselves by accessing their ability to perform their activities of daily living. From a functional perspective, mid to late stage Alzheimers patients typically qualify for Medicaid benefits quite easily.
For more information on Medicaid and each states waivers, please use the following links: General Medicaid, Home Care Waivers, Assisted Living Waivers, Adult Day Care Waivers, and Adult Foster Care Waivers.
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Get The Lighting Right
To aid a more restful nights sleep the bedroom should be as comfortable as possible. Using blackout curtains are a good idea during night-time to eliminate outside disturbances. Research suggests that light therapy can reduce restlessness and confusion for people with dementia. Should you wish to consider light therapy, it has been proven that violet coloured light promotes drowsiness and a full-spectrum fluorescent light used for the first two hours of the day can be settling. Light therapy that follows a regular pattern can also help with disturbed body clocks.
Safety – if night wandering is a problem, or frequent visits to the loo, you will need to consider some sort of low light to prevent your parent falling in the dark. You may want to invest in a motion sensor night light. A motion sensor light automatically turns on when motion is detected within three metres. It then turns off after 30 seconds of no activity. This means that people with dementia can use the bathroom in the night or get out of bed with less risk of falling. The light is gentle and warm in order to not interrupt sleep.
Shop Warm Motion Sensor Wall Lights on the Complete Care Shop from £9.43
How To Communicate With Someone Who Has Dementia
As dementia progresses it affects peoples ability to express themselves so you may need to learn new ways to understand and communicate with them.
- If what the person is saying doesnt seem to make sense, try to look for the meaning behind the words.
- Speak slowly and clearly, using simple language and short sentences.
- Avoid choice and keep things simple with questions that only need a yes or no answer.
- Avoid testing the persons memory by asking them what they did earlier. Try not to get into argument about what they say, even if you think theyre mistaken. Simply listening to what theyre saying rather than correcting them can help someone feel acknowledged.
- Create a memory book to help the person with dementia remember special times. This can be a collection of photos that represent happy events like weddings, holidays and the birth of children.
- Memory books can also help health and social care professionals appreciate the persons likes and understand their past experiences.
- If youre struggling with unusual or challenging behaviour speak to the persons GP to get a referral to your community mental health team. The Alzheimer Societys factsheet Aggressive behaviour has useful information including how to react, working out triggers, and dealing with your own feelings.
Distress and confusion may be caused by other health needs, rather than dementia. Always discuss any concerns with the GP so they can check for physical causes or reactions to current medication.
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What You Can Do For Your Loved One
As an individual with dementia declines, you can help them by providing a loving and supportive presence. Sit with them. Hold their hand. Play music they enjoy.
One of the greatest gifts you can give your loved one is helping to get their affairs in order. Ensure that financial and healthcare powers of attorney are put in place, so you can make decisions when your loved one is no longer able. Look into funeral arrangements before you need them, so you dont need to make important decisions in a time of crisis.
Talk to your loved ones physician about the possibility of palliative care support in the home and hospice care when your loved one is ready.
Divide Tasks Into A Number Of Steps
This makes it much more accessible for many jobs. You should motivate your loved one to do what he can, inform him kindly of steps he appears to neglect, and support him with steps he can no longer do on his own. It can be very helpful to use visual indications, such as demonstrating him with your hand where to place the dinner plate.
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Common Frustrations & Difficulties
Communicating with a person with memory loss can be difficult, but the right strategies can bridge the gap and foster a more fulfilling relationship between the patient and/or loved one. For caregiverswhether you’re a professional or a family member caring for a loved oneits important to adopt a positive attitude to effectively communicate.
Engaging with patients and/or loved ones in an encouraging and patient manner will help minimize feelings of frustration. If you’re struggling to connect with a patient and/or loved one with memory loss, its important to know a few common frustrations and traps and how you can avoid them.
First, remind yourself that people with dementia and/or Alzheimers only have the present moment, so we can let them know that we enjoy their company. When caring for someone who has the disease, the most important thing to take care of is that persons feelings. A person with memory loss cant remember the minute before, they dont know whats going to happen in the next minute. They cant do that kind of thinking, so how they feel right now is the most important thing to pay attention to.
Dont Say No Dont Or Cant
One of the biggest mistakes in dealing with patients and/or loved ones with memory loss is being negative and telling them that they cant do something. Words like no,” don’t, or can’t create resistance. This comes up regularly with family members when the patient and/or loved one might be still driving, and the caregiver and/or family member has made the decision to stop them from driving. One should never say, You can’t drive anymore. They can still technically drive , and they can get very combative when told no. A way to counter this is to say, I know you still can drive, that’s not even a question, but you know what happened the other day? I was out on the highway and this car cut me off, and I had to make a split-second decision it was really scary Its likely they will say, You know what? I’m having a little trouble with those decisions too. The issue isn’t the mechanical driving, it has more to do with comprehension, and many times this answer works much better than, You can’t drive anymore, which can be construed as confrontational.
You may find a patient and/or loved one up too early or confused about time. Instead of using messages such as, Youre up too early, you need to go to bed, try leading with statements such as, You know, I’m getting sleepy. Id like a little snack before I go to bed, and then gesture for the patient and/or loved one to sit with you.
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Tips For Caregivers: Taking Care Of Yourself
Being a caregiver can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming. Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia takes time and effort. It can feel lonely and frustrating. You might even feel angry, which could be a sign you are trying to take on too much. It is important to find time to take care of yourself. Here are some tips that may offer some relief:
- Ask for help when you need it. This could mean asking family members and friends to help or reaching out to for additional care needs.
- Eat nutritious foods, which can help keep you healthy and active for longer.
- Join a caregiver’s support group online or in person. Meeting other caregivers will give you a chance to share stories and ideas and can help keep you from feeling isolated.
- Take breaks each day. Try making a cup of tea or calling a friend.
- Spend time with friends and keep up with hobbies.
- Get exercise as often as you can. Try doing yoga or going for a walk.
- Try practicing meditation. Research suggests that practicing meditation may reduce blood pressure, anxiety and depression, and insomnia.
- Consider seeking help from mental health professionals to help you cope with stress and anxiety. Talk with your doctor about finding treatment.
The Many Benefits Of Pursuing A Dementia Diagnosis
For your mother, an assessment for cognitive changes means shell be checked for other health problems that might cause personality or thinking changes. After all, its possible that the problems youre observing are not due to dementia.
Its also common for dementia to be exacerbated by additional problems like electrolyte imbalances, medication side-effects, untreated pain, or even constipation which can be treated, even though a disease such as Alzheimers cant be cured. So you really want at least a preliminary clinical dementia evaluation to be completed.
If your mother ultimately is deemed to have dementia, you want that to be in her medical chart. Thats because this diagnosis has implications for how to manage the care of any other health problems she has.
A dementia diagnosis will also make it easier for you to get help as a family caregiver. Difficult behaviors are often managed with medications, but its true that these generally increase fall risk, so they should be avoided. If you are concerned about her behavior, this article will explain the pros and cons of the available medication options: 5 Types of Medication Used to Treat Difficult Dementia Behaviors.
Last but not least, a dementia diagnosis often helps a family focus on planning for further declines in decision-making and independence. This is obviously not easy, but trust me, things tend to go better later if families have done some planning earlier.
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Stage : Age Associated Memory Impairment
This stage features occasional lapses of memory most frequently seen in:
- Forgetting where one has placed an object
- Forgetting names that were once very familiar
Oftentimes, this mild decline in memory is merely normal age-related cognitive decline, but it can also be one of the earliest signs of degenerative dementia. At this stage, signs are still virtually undetectable through clinical testing. Concern for early onset of dementia should arise with respect to other symptoms.
Comfort Them Should They Wake In The Night
If your parent gets up in the middle of the night, try to establish the cause for waking. Sit and talk with them for a while quietly in low light. Keep them relaxed and repeat actions they associate with bed time such as soft music until they are ready to return to their bedroom.
A wireless bed exit pad and alarm can help alert you if someone with dementia awakens and is prone to wandering in the night. A motion sensor pad is placed on the mattress. As soon as someone gets out of bed, a wireless signal is sent to the alarm which can be up to 90 metres away. It won’t go off if they just roll over, only when their weight is completely off the sensor. It is a smart way to remotely monitor whether your parent is still in bed, which can even help you to sleep better – safe in the knowledge that you will be alerted should they get up.
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