Apr 2, 2018 by Stephanie Howe - Owner, Comfort Keepers
How is Dementia Care Different from Other Home Care Services?
Confusion, misplaced items, inability to remember recent conversations- these are all signs of dementia, a condition that requires a specialized care that is different from other age-related conditions. But exactly how does dementia care differ from that of other assisted living options?
Here are a few things you can expect from your dementia care provider.
Adapting the Home Environment
Many people do not realize the effect that the home environment can have on an individual who is suffering from dementia, but home caregivers are well aware of home hazards and other problematic environmental factors that can negatively affect a dementia sufferer, and they understand how to adapt the home environment to better support the needs of the individual. This adaptation may include removing clutter, adjusting the lighting and temperature, and providing pleasurable activities like reading and listening to music.
When an individual is suffering from dementia, their brain is struggling to keep up with the world around them, which frequently leaves them feeling anxious and overwhelmed. For this reason, it is important that a caregiver communicates in a calming tone of voice, using short, simple sentences, leaving plenty of time for the individual to respond. They will also limit distractions within the environment to allow the person with dementia to better focus on the conversation. The caregiver will understand that the dementia sufferer may forget something they've been told only moments after they've heard it, and will be patient with memory lapses and frequent repetition.
Because those suffering from dementia may have difficulty communicating at times, dementia caregivers also pay close attention to nonverbal cues that may indicate likes and dislikes, pain, emotional distress, or hearing loss. They are then able to take simple steps to alleviate discomfort and encourage cooperation with daily routines.
Home Care Plan
A dementia care provider understands that while dementia sufferers have limitations, they also still have many strengths and abilities, and will tailor a care program to play to those strengths. They will break up specific tasks, like getting dressed, into smaller, more manageable pieces for the individual in their care, and they may provide basic physical therapy to help increase or maintain motor function and prevent falls. A caregiver is also essential to ensuring the safety of the individual with dementia, and will assist them with dressing, washing, and moving throughout the home.
A person suffering from dementia is more comfortable with a regular routine, and so care providers will ensure that such a routine is in place, with designated times for eating, sleeping, using the restroom, and participating in enjoyable activities. They will also work with other non-professional family caregivers to establish a routine that ensures that they too are getting the support they need to stay rested and healthy while caring for their loved one.
A person with dementia frequently also has other underlying medical conditions that require monitoring and treatment, such as diabetes, arthritis, or digestive issues. A home health care provider can assist with not only administering essential medications on schedule, but also with observing and recording any side effects or additional symptoms that may require further medical assessment. A dementia care provider can also be critical in knowing whether certain behaviors or distress are related to medical problems or when they may be indicative of something else.
A dementia caregiver knows what to expect from the disease and its progression, and can help family members and loved ones prepare for what's to come. They will discuss a variety of future care options and help family members develop a comprehensive plan for when a dementia sufferer's health begins to decline, including changing medications, moving the loved one into an assisted living facility, plans for hospitalization, hospice care, etc. Each of these potential options comes with risks and benefits that may be different for a person with dementia than they might be for another elderly individual, and a caregiver will help family members understand these differences such that they can make a decision that's right for their loved one.