Home Care in Early-Stage Alzheimer's
Have you been considering looking into home care for your loved one with Alzheimer's, but you aren't sure what that actually looks like? Is your loved one still in the early stages of Alzheimer's and you aren't sure if home care is necessary or if it will be beneficial?
Caregiving and Alzheimer's
When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, you know that their needs will grow as the disease progresses and the day will come when you need to hire someone to help out but knowing when that day has arrived can be tricky.
As a caregiver, you may think you can handle it and that you are doing fine on your own. You might even be right, but it may eventually catch up to you. You don't want to wait until you are showing signs of burnout to start looking for help.
It's much better to be proactive about it and start utilizing home care before you need it.
Home care in early-stage Alzheimer's
You may be asking yourself, "But what would a home health aide even do if they came to my house for a few hours?" It’s a very common question, especially if your loved one is still in the earlier stages of the disease, while able to mostly care for themselves.
Try starting out by having someone come to your loved ones' residence a couple of times a week for just a couple of hours at a time to provide companion care for your loved one. A home health aide can help your loved one make lunch or go out for a walk in the neighborhood, so they don't get lost.
They can help your loved one with chores around the house or doing the laundry. They may even be able to take your loved one out grocery shopping or running errands if they are no longer able to drive.
Companionship is meaningful
If your loved one refuses to accept help from anyone other than you, then a home health aide can just sit and watch TV or a movie with them. They can participate in your loved one's favorite hobby with them, such as gardening, making crafts, walking the dog, or feeding the birds.
My mom's aide used to take her to the pond in her neighborhood every day and they would feed the ducks together. Just think of any activities your loved one enjoys doing and imagine them having a friend to do those activities with a few days a week.
Developing the relationship early
You may think that it's too early to start using home care because your loved one is only going to decline and you should just wait until you really need the help.
While that is completely understandable, starting home care earlier on will help your loved one get used to the idea of having a "stranger" take care of them. With any luck, the home health aide will become a friend and your loved one will not see them as a stranger anymore. The more time your loved one has to bond with someone, the easier it will be for them to accept their help when they need more of it later on down the road.
It may also help to start out with companion care so your loved one will see this person as a friend and not someone who was sent to take care of them because they can no longer take care of themselves.
Through disease progression
Even if your loved one doesn't require much care right now, they will someday. When that day comes, you will be so glad you already have home care in place. You will be able to adjust the weekly schedule and daily responsibilities instead of having to start from scratch.
In the meantime, it will give you a chance to get out and take a break from your caregiving duties. Even if you don't feel like you need it, taking some time out for yourself can be immensely beneficial for both you and your loved one. It will also allow you to get used to the idea of someone else taking care of your loved one and you not being the one to tend to their every need.
Utilizing home care in early-stage Alzheimer's can be a great way to prevent burnout. Think of it as setting yourself up for success in the future. Tell us about your experience in the comments below, or share your story with the community.
Are you a male caregiver to a loved one with Alzheimer's disease?