How to Tell if a Loved One May Need Alzheimer’s or Dementia Care?

Discerning whether an aging loved one has crossed the line from the normal forgetfulness and missteps of advanced age into the dangerous realm of Alzheimer’s or dementia can be a difficult task, made more-so by the fact that many elders wish to continue independent living past the point that doing so is safe. By understanding the signs that can indicate that your loved one needs care, you’ll be better equipped to make this important judgment, and help your loved one live as long and satisfying a life as possible.

Warning areas

Medical professionals look at six key areas when determining a senior’s degree of dementia, and it’s these areas which one should look at for early signs that care may be necessary.

  • Memory. The most obvious symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s progression in most cases, problems with memory can quickly graduate from the minor forgetfulness inherent to the aging process to a serious impediment to daily activities. If your loved one begins forgetting important events or losing memories at an advanced rate, it may be time for dementia care./li>
  • Orientation. Less obvious than some other symptoms, it’s crucial that you take your loved one’s ability to orient themselves into account when determining whether they need care. Regular difficulty in determining location, time, or date should all be treated as major warning signs—problems with orientation can result in misdosing of medications, getting lost, and other problems./li>
  • Judgment/Problem solving. Loss of executive function is a major warning flag when determining whether your loved one requires care. If your loved one seems to struggle with resolving situations, they may be in danger of various accidents: if you’re not certain of your loved one’s ability to deal with an emergency such as a small fire in the kitchen, it may be time to consider dementia care./li>
  • Community affairs. If you notice your loved one withdrawing from community activities such as going to church, political involvement, visiting friends and family, etc., this can be an early warning sign of dementia or Alzheimer’s. This also makes spotting more obvious symptoms more difficult, so stay highly aware of any changes in this area./li>
  • Home and hobbies. If your loved one stops taking care of activities around the house, be alert. This may indicate simple difficulty with the tasks, such as arthritis making cooking, cleaning, knitting, etc., difficult, but it can also indicate the withdrawal typical to advancing cases of AD and dementia. This can hasten the evolution of either condition, as hobbies are known to combat deterioration of the mind./li>
  • Personal care. The final traditional indicator for dementia, loved ones showing reduced personal hygiene and care for themselves should be viewed with some amount of alarm. If your loved ones begin eating poorly, bathing infrequently, not bothering with makeup or hair care, etc., make sure to ask them about it.

Other Possibilities

Remember, many of these warning signs can be caused by other developing conditions common to the elderly. Pain from arthritis and a general lack of physical capability can contribute to much of the same problems, without indicating any loss of mental acuity. Depression and other mental and behavioral symptoms can also manifest similarly, without necessitating dementia care. However, in such cases other forms of outside assistance may be advisable—allowing any of these situations to continue unchecked can only go poorly, but with proper assistance deterioration of the mind, body, and mental well-being can be controlled.

Why Select In-Home Care for Seniors?

As the Baby Boomer generation continues to reach the age of 65 and older, more seniors than ever before are opting for in-home care. In fact, more than 2.4 million elderly or disabled patients now receive care in the home as a preferred form of treatment. These patients cover the spectrum of medical needs, including recovery from surgery to heart disease to recovery from injuries.

Responding to Benefits and Advantages

This growth in home care as a preferred form of treatment is due to a number of advantages and benefits. Aside from the psychological boost of being in the comforting environment of one’s home, there are a number of additional pluses for the patients, the caregivers, and the family.

These multiple benefits fall into several categories, including:

  • Independence: Many of today’s seniors are anxious to maintain their independence and sense of freedom. Instead of confinement in a nursing or medical facility while relying on others, remaining at home retains that sense of stability and freedom. Moreover, seniors feel they are making their own decisions, and they can continue to make decisions about their home and lifestyle.
  • Efficiency of care: When care is provided in the home, especially if it involves therapy and/or rehabilitation, the treatment is focused on a realistic, practical situation. The senior is in a familiar environment where movement is safer and well-known. Additionally, home care covers an entire spectrum of care, allowing for the provision of only those services needed. Instead of occupying a bed in a remote full-service facility, care at home can be tapered down or accelerated based on specific needs. From daily medication reminders to meal preparation to full therapy, only those services needed are provided.
  • Personalized care in a one-on-one environment: In-home care is carefully tailored to each patient’s situation and need. Instead of being one patient vying for attention among dozens, the senior receiving home care has the undivided attention of the home health professional. A care plan is developed and followed to ensure the treatment provided is precisely what is needed. There is the added comfort of receiving regular treatment from the same caregiver instead of a stream of strangers.
  • Supportive of treatment goals: A great deal of energy and effort is expended when a patient has to get in a vehicle, travel to a medical office or facility, wait for treatment, and then return home. However, when that care is provide in the home, all of that energy is directed to healing and recovery, not simply surviving the trip out and back.
  • Convenience and peace of mind: In addition to the psychological advantages to the senior, many loved ones and family caregivers find in-home care is far more convenient. Aside from having more control over a schedule, knowing their loved one is in their own home and receiving professional care provides a peace of mind to many. Instead of coordinating trips for care or having to visit in a facility, family members often prefer visiting at the senior’s home and minimizing potential conflicts.

The growth in quality, professional home health services supports this trend to in-home care. Both Medicare and private insurance companies acknowledge the numerous benefits that this choice offers and accommodate the costs in most circumstances. To learn more about AT Home Care’s unique approach to in-home care, contact us today.

How to Arrange Hospice Care

Making the arrangements for hospice care can be a daunting task—by definition, it’s a system for making the last days of you or your loved one’s life more comfortable. Keeping the process as simple and stress-free as possible should be a high priority, so below are tips to help you get started.

1. Determine Eligibility and Coverage.

First off, you’ll need to determine the patient’s eligibility for hospice care, and their eligibility for coverage under their insurance or other health program. Eligibility in the U.S. is limited to patients with terminal illnesses resulting in a diagnoses of 6 months or fewer to live—the diagnoses must be physician-certified, so make sure that’s handled.

For insurance, make sure to take note of limitations, special rules, and any other important factors before you move forward—depending on the coverage, the limitations may be strict or nonexistent, and it’s important to know which moving forward.

2. Decide Upon a Location

Hospice care can take place in a number of environments, including the home, a long term care facility, a hospital, or an independent hospice locations. Think carefully of patient needs, coverage limitations, and comfort when making the decision. Staying at home may be most comfortable, but may prove infeasible for patients dealing with certain illnesses. Think carefully on this step, as it will ultimately have a major impact on the hospice experience.

3. Contact Hospice Providers

Once you know the limitations of your coverage, and where you want to set up, it’s time to start contacting providers and seeing what they have to offer. Make sure to ask the right questions:

  • Qualifications, certifications, and awards.
  • Services offered.
  • Schedules.
  • Staff assigned to patients.

Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions and get a good idea of the fine details of the provider’s operation—this is a very important decision you’re making. Take plenty of notes, figure out what’s most important for you or your loved one’s well-being, and make an informed decision.

Consider arranging a meeting or visit, as it will help you to compare the offerings, and also give you the insight you need to ask important questions you may not have considered otherwise.

4. Select a Program

Once you have your information and know what you should be valuing, it’s time to make a choice. You’ll want to contact the hospice provider and have them begin the process of beginning the program. You’ll want to make sure all the legal, medical, and financial paperwork is clearly understood, signed, and stored away safely—it can be difficult to care much for the fine details at such a time, but keeping clear records of everything will greatly reduce unexpected sources of stress.

If you do find yourself having trouble selection a program, make sure to ask around—the patient’s doctor, medical social worker, the local health department, and regional and national health organizations can all provide insight which may prove useful in making your final decision.

5. Make Other Arrangements

Make arrangements to ease the process for loved ones—choose one person (if you’re not that person, yourself) to help everyone coordinate visits, keep informed, handle hiccups in the process, and help people with their grief when the time comes to say goodbyes. Coordination will greatly ease the process.