Posted on: Feb 17, 2021
Family caregivers for persons with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia face a physically, emotionally, and financially stressful experience, particularly as care needs expand. The most effective caregivers learn all they can and do not wait (and wait) to use services and programs that can help.
This is where the phrase, “continuum of care” comes in to play. In the dementia care context, this phrase describes services that can help from the early stages of illness to later stages.
A caregiver aware of this continuum begins by looking for a local adult day center that provides socialization and support to the person with dementia (and gives the family member some respite, or a break from the demands of care).
Traveling this continuum, the next step would be to utilize in-home services. Families often start with a modest four-hour shift, several days a week. If this goes well, hours can be expanded.
The next step is residential care; if the person does not require extensive health care support, an assisted living memory care program provides safety and supervision, staff that can successfully accomplish personal care, and an engaging activity program.
When considering any dementia care program, look for a defined and life-affirming philosophy of care, good staff training, and a program rich in activity and engagement.
Today, let us focus on one popular piece of this continuum – finding in-home help. Here are some ideas to help you and your family have a successful experience.
First, do some “market research” by asking friends and professional contacts about any experiences they have had with a local agency. Contact several to ask them about their policies and costs, including any minimums they have (e.g., a minimum four-hour shift) or added costs for evenings and weekends.
Ask the agency about its dementia care philosophy. Is there a defined program with specific elements to capture your family member’s history, personal preferences, and preferred or favorite activities? Are there some interesting points of difference or creative approaches to care that sets this provider apart?
With the COVID pandemic, most intakes are initially done via phone or “Zoom,” but an agency will still want to make an in-person visit before formal services begin. At that meeting, ask about any special safety protocols in place during the pandemic. Also be sure to complete all the forms given to you during the intake visit, particularly the forms or surveys that will help the agency learn more about your family member and find the best match.
When your new worker starts, be sure to offer him or her a good introduction to the person with dementia. Share any caregiving tips you have learned and discuss activities that lift the person’s spirits. Hopefully, you will get a good match right away, but do not be discouraged if the first worker and your family member do not connect well. Sometimes it takes two or three tries until you find a great match.
Your new home care aide will bring his or her skills to your home to help with chores, personal care, cooking and all-important socialization. In-home help can delay placement in residential care and help the person live as independently as possible.
CareLink Home Care, known and trusted in Illinois and Missouri, empowers independence to stay at home by assisting with activities of daily living at home. Whether Short- or Long-Term Care, Respite, Hospice or Dementia Care, our care coordinators can help you determine which services best meet your unique needs. Learn more about our services, CareLink Home Care.