(BPT) – September is World Alzheimer’s Month, a time to raise awareness and challenge stigmas around Alzheimer’s and dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and it’s estimated that nearly 13 million will be diagnosed with the condition by 2050.
While an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis can seem scary, many patients can continue to live healthy and fulfilling lives in the comfort of their own homes. In fact, a study published in the BMC Geriatrics journal suggests that living at home as long as possible is associated with a better quality of life for patients with dementia.
“Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia at home often falls to adult children, spouses and other family members,” says Sherri Snelling, gerontologist and spokesperson for Comfort Keepers. “While this can be a rewarding experience, it also presents some challenges. Because Alzheimer’s is neurodegenerative where there are progressive stages of the disease, family members need help navigating their loved one’s changing needs.”
Here are a few ways to make it easier to care for your parent, spouse or grandparent with Alzheimer’s at home.
1. Prep your house
Alzheimer’s and dementia can affect someone’s ability to keep themselves safe. By preparing the home to support your loved one’s needs, you can ensure they can safely live in the comfort of a familiar environment and achieve greater wellbeing. Some things you can do to make their home a safer place include:
- Locking garages, basements, sheds and other areas where you store potentially dangerous or hazardous items
- Using appliances with automatic shut-off or installing products that can achieve auto controls or alert you if there’s a problem through an app
- Keeping walkways and rooms well-lit — especially in task areas such as the kitchen
- Regularly checking safety devices like carbon monoxide, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers
- Removing tripping hazards and keeping the home clutter-free
- Installing handrails or chair rails in hallways, grab bars and shower chairs in the bath and other assistive devices
- Using a GPS device to track keys and wallets
- Leaving written medication instructions near pill bottles
Not only will these steps grant you peace of mind, but they will also allow your parent or spouse to retain more independence and freedom at home while reducing their risk of harm.
2. Create a routine
A predictable schedule can help reinforce a loved one’s sense of familiarity and make it easier for caregivers to plan their day. When setting a routine, try to maintain older routines as much as possible to avoid confusion and anxiety.
Hygiene can become challenging because the person simply forgets their needs or resists the help. Make sure you give them time to groom and bathe themselves or with assistance.
Regular physical activity during the day, such as walking, will help Alzheimer’s patients have a normal sleep schedule and maintain a consistent routine. Fostering everyday positive moments through creative activities, reading, listening to music, and social events can help your loved one live a full and joyful life and raise their spirits.
3. Ask for help
It’s important to ask for help caring for your parent or spouse, because doing so can improve their quality of life and make it easier to provide them with proper care at home.
Get in touch with an in-home caregiver network like Comfort Keepers, which offers part- and full-time services. A professional caregiver can help create a custom care plan, so your loved one can experience greater well-being through positive moments, connection and a more purposeful life, no matter their age or acuity, in a comfortable, familiar environment.
These dedicated and trained professionals work with you to help your loved one maintain independence. More importantly, they’re trained to find ways to bring joy, purpose and positivity into clients’ lives to elevate the human spirit.
Comfort Keepers can also help with meal prep, transportation, running errands and helping with personal care. They understand the nuances of Alzheimer’s and how to help your loved one thrive by focusing on their physical, mental and social well-being. The company also brings joy to its caregivers, empowering them to get creative while bringing daily doses of joy to your loved one.
Seniors want the same things we all do: Connectedness, love, purpose, hope and joy. Using these three tips, you can safely and properly care for your parent or spouse with Alzheimer’s or dementia so they can continue to enjoy their life. For more information on how to help your loved ones, or if you’re interested in joining a team of uplifting caregivers, visit ComfortKeepers.com.