How to Know When It’s Time for Alzheimer’s In-Home Care
How do you know when it’s time to hire in-home care for your family member with Alzheimer’s? You will know.
Most caregivers have a story about the moment they realized that their parent couldn’t be left on his own anymore. Maybe it was the time when your dad went outside on a cold day and couldn’t figure out how to get back in the unlocked house. Perhaps it was the day your mother didn’t recognize you and became scared when you entered the home. Maybe you had a scare when your mom took too much of her daily meds. Maybe your dad left the burner on the stove on when he made himself a cup of tea. Or perhaps you just have a gut feeling that it is time.
Maybe you already have determined that your parent needs around-the-clock care. If so, it is time to make some difficult decisions. Do you find a nursing home with an Alzheimer’s unit? These units can be expensive. Some facilities charge between $5,000 and $7,000 a month.
Do you move your parent in with a family member? This could be an option if you have a family member with extra space in their senior-safe home. When a loved one lives in one particular family member’s house, it may be difficult for others to share responsibility for the parent’s care.
Do you try to keep your parent in his or her own home? Most would argue that this would be the best idea in most situations. Alzheimer’s patients do better in their homes. They respond better to care while in familiar surroundings. During brief moments of clarity, it can feel that you have your old mom back as she sits in her favorite chair looking through the window at the rose bushes she planted years ago. It also may be easier to share care responsibilities if family members can come and go from the family home.
Do you and your family members plan to provide the care? If you have a large family, with flexible schedules who live close by, this is a viable option. But not many people are lucky enough to have enough family member around to share care responsibilities.
If you would like to keep your parent at home, but you and your family are unable to provide the around-the-clock care he or she needs, you may consider contacting a home care agency to find a person to help with the responsibility.
How to Make Your Home Safer for Someone with Alzheimer’s
If you have determined that you are going to keep your loved one at home, there are special considerations that must be taken to make the home safe for the Alzheimer’s patient. These safety tips may change as the condition of your loved one changes.
Even if your parent does not have Alzheimer’s, it is wise to install grab bars around the toilet, bathtub, and shower. It is also wise to make sure the areas around the shower are not slippery. You could perhaps place nonskid strips on the floor in those areas.
For Alzheimer’s patients, you may need to reduce the water temperature on your water heater to below 120 degrees Fahrenheit. You also might consider removing locks on the bathroom doors (as well as all the other inside doors in the home.) Finally, you may want to remove hazardous materials such as cleaning products or medications from the bathroom.
There are many areas and items in the kitchen that can be dangerous for a person not in their right mind. Install safety knobs on the stove to keep your loved one from turning on the burners or the oven. Consider removing cleaning products, alcohol, knives, scissors, and lighters from the kitchen. You may want to remove the toaster and unplug the garbage disposal as well.
Scan the living areas for items that could be potentially dangerous. Keep the floor free of clutter and tripping hazards. You may also need to put away knick-knacks and other decorative items that could become projectiles if your parent tends to become volatile at times. Remove any ornamental fruits or food that can be mistaken for the real article.
Keep detergents and bleach out of reach. Be especially careful of pods of laundry detergent that may look edible for a person with dementia.
Often garages are full of tools or chemicals that can be harmful to a person. Of course, all car keys should be secured in a safe place for all vehicles present at the property.
Secure or Remove Weapons
Remove guns and other weapons from the home of an Alzheimer’s patient. Your loved one may mistake you as an intruder in the house and may try to use the weapon against you.
As mentioned earlier, it may be a good idea to remove the locks on all inside doors within the house. If you are concerned that your parent may leave the house, you could consider installing deadbolts high or low on the outside doors to make it harder for your parent to leave the house without your knowledge.
Lock up any medications in the home. Even if the patient may take the correct prescription for a condition, he or she may accidentally take too many pills.
Keep The Home Well Lit
Keep hallways and stairwells well lit, so your loved one has every opportunity to recognize her location.
Ask a home care agency for help
Ask your home care provider to give you specific tips on keeping your loved one safe. He or she will have worked for Alzheimer’s patients before and may see potentially dangerous items that you and your family didn’t realize could be dangerous.
Find a balance
One benefit of leaving your parents in their home is that they will find comfort in their things. If you remove everything from the house that they are familiar with, they may not even recognize the place as “home.” Try to find a balance in removing potentially harmful items and still making the area seem the same as usual.
It is also essential to find a balance between caring for your parent and living your life. Yes, it is your responsibility to take care of your aging parents, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of yourself as well. Reach out to at home care agencies to hire someone to help you care for your parent.
Hire an Agency That Understands In-Home Alzheimer’s Care
Employees of home care agencies can offer varying levels of care. You can hire someone to perform skilled nursing, or you can hire someone to do light housekeeping. Perhaps you need someone to sit with your family member during the day so you can go to work or appointments. Maybe you need to have someone bathe your mom three times a week or fix your dad lunch every Tuesday so you can attend your book club. Regardless of the level of care or the frequency, at home agencies can work with you to find the right employee and schedule for your situation.
You are not alone. Others have faced caring for parents with Alzheimer’s. Reach out to support groups that are either online or face to face. Take care of yourself. Your parent depends on you.