How to care for an Alzheimers patient in your home
Alzheimer’s disease is like a creeping paralysis that affects one out of every eight people who are older than 65 years of age. Statistics compiled during the year 2010 estimate that approximately 5.3 million Americans have been inflicted with this dreadful, debilitating disease.
The primary caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients are family members and friends. Their contribution to the care of their loved ones in the year 2009 was approximately «12.5 billion hours of unpaid care.»
Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient in your own home isn’t an easy task, and it’s physically and emotionally impossible for a single individual to do by themselves. But, with the proper preparation, and the assistance of other family members and friends, this daunting task of love is manageable, and may just add many more years to your loved one’s life; years they might not otherwise have the pleasure of seeing while under the care of total strangers.
Get the legal matters in order
There are two important issues that must be addressed before you start to care for an Alzheimer’s patient in your home. You or another family member needs to obtain a power of attorney so you’ll have the legal authority to make medical and financial decisions on behalf of your loved one.
Next, you need to contact the Social Security Administration to complete an application to become the Representative Payee for their social security payments. This will require opening a bank account in their name with you listed as the representative payee. By having unrestricted access to their funds, you’ll be able to provide for all of their basic daily needs without having to dip into your own finances to pay for those needs.
Prepare a room just for them
The Alzheimer’s patient will need a room in your home that they’ll eventually accept as their own, preferably on the floor at ground level. You don’t want them to have to climb or descend a stairwell unless it’s absolutely necessary, due to the falling risk hazard associated with all Alzheimer’s inflicted patients. When you begin to prepare the room, be sure to place items that are familiar to them throughout the room. Pictures, their bed and dresser, a chair, and even some of their most beloved items, are just a few recommendations to make the transition from their home to yours much easier.
One thing that you need to keep in mind is that as the disease progresses, you may have to move or remove some of the items to keep the patient from hurting themselves. This is especially true if they begin to get up in the middle of the night and start rambling around in the dark. Any obstacle that they have to move around to get out of the room, is a tripping hazard which could cause them to fall and break an arm, leg or hip. Keep this in mind when you arrange the furniture in their room so you can keep the pathway to the door completely unobstructed.
Purchase helpful items
If you’re fortunate enough to have a patient living with you who can still go to the bathroom on their own, and take care of most of their other grooming requirements by themselves, you’ll have some time to prepare for when they’ll no longer be able to do these things without assistance.
All of the items listed on the «Things Needed» list will become invaluable to you later on. The added height of the toilet seat extension will help them to get off of the toilet when their leggs become weak. The bathtub seat will give them a safe place to sit while taking a shower or being bathed by you. The blood pressure, oxygen and heart rate monitors will allow you to monitor their basic, overall health, when they reach a point in their Alzheimer’s progression that makes it impractical to take them to the doctor’s office.
Many of these items may be purchased with the funds from their social security payments. If it’s something that’s needed to provide for their safety and welfare, their funds may be used to finance those transactions.
Prepare your home
At some point during their care, an Alzheimer’s patient will begin to roam about, often in the middle of the night while you’re trying to get some sleep. This is the most vulnerable time in both of your lives when they’ll attempt to do something that you least expect. As long as they can walk, open doors and roam about, there is a distinct possibility that they’ll eventually attempt to go out of the front or back door to your home, and this is one thing you don’t want them to try to do in the middle of the night.
One way you can restrict their access to the outside world during these crucial moments of the night, is to install a deadbolt on those specific doors so that they’ll have to be unlocked from the inside with a key. If a hallway door separates the bedrooms from the rest of the house, you may consider installing the deadbolt on that door instead. Just keep in mind that it will need to be installed so that they keyhole is on the inside (hallway side) of the door.
The most important thing to remember is that you’re responsible for their safety and well-being. By restricting their access to certain areas of the home, or the outside world during specific time frames of the day or night, the only thing your doing to them is preventing them from hurting themselves.
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