Alzheimers home care is the treatment of choice for nearly 70 percent of those with Alzheimer's disease. Gene therapy, drugs, and medications are emphasized in the research.
Unfortunately, prevention of Alzheimer's disease is not possible at this time. Medications to slow the progression of the disease in the early stages, however, do exist.
On "good days" the devastating effects of this progressive disease are not even noticed. Misplacing an item or forgetting a name is common to all of us.
On the "bad days" there can be confusion and moodiness. The person with the disease may not know what day or time of day it is and be confused about many things. They can be anti-social and irritable. The confusion can result in being withdrawn.
Eventually, there will be more "bad days" than "good days" as irreversible changes in the brain occur. See Alzheimer's Stages for the gradual progression of this disease.
Of course, this is the goal of most caregivers and nearly all sufferers of Alzheimer's disease. It's expensive. It's restrictive. It's communal living. And it is not home!
So, let's try to address the needs if one stays in their home.
Will it be safe?
How much help will be necessary?
Who will provide the help?
How much of a commitment will they need to make?
How can family and caregivers plan for the inevitable future?
How can good nutrition be assured?
There are many questions that will soon need intelligent answers. Even if the basic necessities of life are provided, we all need to socialize and have activities that are stimulating. We need to be safe from "scammers" and from those who could convince us to pay an enormous price for something that we do not need.
Alzheimers home care is possible. But eventually, the caregivers will need help. Because it is a progressive disease, 24 hour care will, some day, be necessary. Dealing with aggressive, even violent, behavior may be part a caregiver's challenges.
Sleeping patterns may change to "naps" in the daytime and "restlessness" at night. Each patient, yes now they are patients, will react differently. Confusion, paranoia, and suspicions can take over their lives.
It is wise to plan early for the help that will be needed.
For a person in the earlier stages Alzheimer's disease, a medical alert service could require daily contact by the person and provide a portable alert button in case of an emergency.
It may be necessary to use short sentences and simple words for effective communication. Using the person's name when asking a question and removing distractions (TV and radio noise) should help.
Caregiver impatience will not get results. Here are a few "Do nots":
Here are a few "Do's":
Activities for Alzheimers home care should start with the person's interests. Remember, they are the same person as before the disease, but parts of their brain will no longer work as well.
Avoid overstimulation and stressful situations. A short drive or walk will be stimulating and often rewarding. Gardening, singing songs, telling stories or interacting with pets may fit a person's interests.
Keeping physically and mentally active is recommended. Consider gradually introducing simple exercises and card or board games. Sitting in the backyard or on a balcony or visits to a senior community center may provide needed diversity.
Visitors should be scheduled at a time of day when the patient is likely to be most responsive and interested. Caregivers usually know when that time is. Visitors must be aware of the communication skills listed above.
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