Safety, Simplicity, Supervision

I am preparing homecare staff to assist an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s.  Usually, her husband is the primary caregiver, but he has been admitted to a rehab facility for recovery from knee replacement surgery.  Of primary importance is social engagement — someone to be in the home and provide support, guidance, companionship, and safety.

Home Care Partners works with many seniors needing some form of home assistance.  But specific to Alzheimer’s cases, we have a checklist of reminders on how to engage with elders.

1.) Conduct a home assessment. Possible areas of danger need to be identified and remedied in such areas as the kitchen or cellar. This may include locking up power tools, hiding kitchen knives and other utensils, removing dangerous items from medicine cabinets, and keeping a fire extinguisher nearby.

2.) Remember to “adapt rather than teach”. Rather than trying to re-teach an elderly loved one about safety, take corrective action. For example, instead of reminding them not to drive the car, take the keys away.  They may not be capable of learning-new due to their dementia.

3.)  DO NOT MULTI-TASK.  Keep communication and activities basic and simple.  Many accidents occur when the elder is rushed or confused. To alleviate this problem, break activities into simple, step-by-step tasks, allowing the individual sufficient time for completion. For example, if the individual is having a problem getting dressed, visually model the action by setting out clothes of distinguishing colors.

4.) Every senior is unique and different.  Support the individual’s needs.  The home provides familiarity and comfort.  Utilize the home environment to encourage independence, social interaction and meaningful activities. Some seniors may be more phycially active than others.  Develop diverse activities such as walking, or arranging the bedroom drawers, or folding the laundry.  Each action provides simplicity and activity, and can be done in tandem or with supervision.

Taking care of loved ones with dementia can become an all-consuming task.   But with homecare services and assistance, the family retains some peace of mind and the individual senior can remain at home with comfort, dignity, and safety.

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– John D. Miller is the owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

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