Alzheimer's Disease & In-Home Care
About 5 million people in the country currently suffer from Alzheimer's disease and an estimated 20 million will have it by 2050. Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia and may advance to the stage where it becomes terminal. There is no cure and little is known about its root causes. Although much research is being undertaken in the field of study, some advances have been shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer's symptoms in some individuals.
In-home care is most often the first choice in caring for an individual diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Many families prefer to keep their parents at home in familiar surroundings with less disruption in routines resulting in reduced confusion which greatly helps in reducing the symptoms of the disease. Recognizing the need for outside help such as a companion, nursing assistant or homemaker through an in-home care agency can make this a viable option. A caregiver can also help with these important factors in dealing with Alzheimer's individuals:
- maintain a common daily routine and schedule within familiar surroundings
- keep track of important medications
- assist with light physical exercise
- engage in mentally stimulating activities
- provide personal care and hygiene
- supervise and ensure a safe environment
In-home care is generally less costly if you are able to share in the caregiving duties. The biggest concern with this option is the stress associated with the demands of caregiving. Many families with the best intentions simply "burn out". Neglecting other responsibilities, lacking confidence in caregiving skills, and resenting demands placed on your time, are a few predominate feelings associated with caring for a person with Alzheimer's disease. Remember, the key to success here is allowing the in-home care agency and caregivers to relieve you of some responsibilities.
The Alzheimer's Association has a national network of chapters that provide a wealth of programs and services to persons with Alzheimer's disease, their families and caregivers, and health care professionals. Typical programs and services offered by the Alzheimer's Association appear below. In addition, some chapters offer special programs such as funding of local researchers, assistance to persons with Alzheimer's who live alone, rural and/or multicultural outreach, care coordination services, and training programs for families and professionals.
- Helpline - Chapters offer a telephone service that provides emotional support to the caller as well as information about Alzheimer's disease and related disorders, chapter services, and community resources.
- Support groups - Peer or professionally led groups for caregivers and others dealing with Alzheimer's disease are another chapter-provided service.
- Education - Chapters maintain a wealth of educational materials (brochures, videos, audiotapes, books, etc.) on topics related to Alzheimer's disease and related disorders - basic information about these conditions, getting a diagnosis, communication techniques, home safety tips, choosing a residential care setting, experiences of other caregivers, activity programming, etc.
- Advocacy - Through its work in public policy and by advocating for legislative reform, the Association raises awareness about barriers to obtaining and providing quality Alzheimer care and services.
- Safe Return - This national, government-funded program assists in the identification and safe, timely return of individuals with Alzheimer's disease or a related disorder that wanders off, sometimes far from home, and become lost.
Contact your State's Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association