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Ingleside at Rock Creek Blog

Posted: Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Homecare versus Memory Care

Time may seem to stand still after receiving a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s. But your mind can soon be flooded with so many questions you may find it hard to think clearly. Among those will likely be how and where care should be provided. 

You may not know if it’s possible to provide care at home or if it is, what will be your role. You might wonder if you should bring in outside caregivers or if your loved one will need to move into a community. Although it’s normal to feel confusion, and it may take some time, remember that answers can be found.

The Journey Often Begins at Home

It’s not unusual for care to begin at home in the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s. For those functioning independently, home is a familiar and comfortable place. This is a good time to plan for the future together, including legal, financial, long-term care, coping strategies and expectations before the disease progresses.

The Alzheimer’s Association, a leading organization for support and research, is a great resource of education for all stages of the disease. Providing care in the beginning is a balance between encouraging independence and getting ready for the future and they offer these suggestions for home care:

Adjusting to the New Normal

Safety first: Make sure your home is safe. If there’s no immediate risk of injury or harm to the individual, your role is mainly to provide encouragement.

Avoid stress:  Prioritize tasks while encouraging contribution. For example, if grocery shopping is frustrating, suggest your loved one help outline a weekly menu or create the grocery list.

Positive assumptions: Assume they’re capable of completing the task until you know differently. Stay focused on their current needs rather than dwelling or worrying about the future.

Create a help signal: Devise a cue or phrase to confirm if they want support, such as asking if there’s anything you can do or a nod of the head.

Talk it over:  Ask what they need or acknowledge the frustrations they may be feeling. Then make a plan together if possible.

Work together: Find activities you can do together and continue the conversation about their expectations for how you will provide support.

The Alzheimer’s Association also offers these recommendations for how you can help your loved one maintain their independence longer by:

  •                   Assisting them with keeping appointments
  •                   Remembering words or names
  •                   Recalling familiar places or people
  •                   Managing the money
  •                   Keeping track of medications
  •                   Planning or organizing schedules
  •                   Taking care of transportation

When it comes to the daily care and support of someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, one of the most important qualities you can bring is love. Flexibility is next. This is a progressive disease and the behavior and abilities will change over time.

Being aware and able to adjust to the shifting circumstances is a necessity if you’re caring for someone at home. Although there are no one-size-fits-all solutions, here are a few suggestions that offers that can make things a little easier:

When Providing At-Home Care

  1. Create a routine around the times of day when your loved one seems more cooperative. Realize this will need to be adjusted.
  2. Use simple words and short sentences but don’t talk to them like a child. Minimize distractions and background noise. If you don’t understand what they’re trying to say, look for body language and emotional cues.
  3. Dressing at the same time of day can help. Encourage them to choose what to wear but limit the options so it’s not overwhelming.
  4. Maintain similar times for dining and eliminate distractions. Ask the person to choose what they want to eat but minimize the number of choices.
  5. Small portions or smaller meals can be easier. Offer food and utensils that are simpler to use, including finger foods, easy to grasp utensils and cups with lids and straws.
  6. Look for uncomplicated and short activities that interest your loved one and include these throughout the day. You can also find great opportunities at adult day services.
  7. Keep the evening and sleeping routines your loved one had. Limit caffeine and naps later in the day. Use night-lights in the bedroom, hall and bathroom to help with orientation in the dark.
  8. Look at your home for safety. Keep the house free of clutter. Secure locks if your loved one begins wandering but remove locks on bathroom and bedroom doors to prevent locking themselves in.

When Memory Care is Needed

As the disease progresses and behaviors change, the time may come when you’re no longer able to provide care at home. You may find it a growing challenge to keep them safe if they begin wandering or there may be physical conditions you’re not able to handle.

If your loved one’s needs exceed your capabilities, you may find it’s time for memory care. A few advantages of these communities include keeping them physically secure, engaged, managing medication and helping with mobility issues. If you haven’t read our blog, When is Memory Care Needed, click here (include link) for more information.

When you decide a community may be needed, make sure to visit several. Remember, this is not a reflection of the care you provided but often the next step needed in the progression of the disease. Your role will still be vital.

Continuing the Care You Provided

One of the advantages that a memory support community can offer is access to all the resources. The specially trained staff, medical personnel and facility structures are designed to work together and specifically address the physical and emotional needs of those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s.

At Ingleside, we are here to help you and your loved one navigate this journey. Please call if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour. You’ll find our Memory Support Assisted Living is a continuance of the individualized care you gave at home. 

Call (202) 905-0018 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.


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