Caring for an elderly relative can be a very difficult task and it is very common for people to choose a suitable care home. But if this isn’t the route you want to take, or you would like to try caring for your relative at home, you need to know what you are taking on first.
Care is a difficult and often unappreciated job but you also need to be ready to make adjustments to your home where necessary. Caring for anyone with Alzheimer’s should never be taken lightly and it is very likely that you will require some professional help.
Unless you have experience as a carer, it is very likely that you will need some help to provide the best Alzheimers care. This is no judgement on your caring nature, it is just that many people underestimate the needs of those with Alzheimer’s and need some help in developing strategies for proper care.
The other issue is that Alzheimer’s care is not a 9-5 job. Your relative will likely require round the clock care, especially if they don’t sleep well or tend to wander. The idea that you can give this type of care 24/7 is unrealistic – everyone needs a break and a holiday at some point. Self-care is vital when you are caring for others so don’t work yourself to breaking point before you take a break.
Many people with Alzheimer’s also have some physical needs to attend to, this may be because they forget to use some muscles or struggle with their coordination. Having a room and a bathroom downstairs is usually the best idea as stairs are difficult to negotiate and can be risky.
Even people in the first stages who are still relatively independent may need some home alterations. For example, installing locks to prevent them wandering off alone or installing night lights to help them find their way to the bathroom at night.
Every individual has slightly different needs and so no single strategy will work for everyone. Learning the best way to deal with different situations with your relative is never going to be easy and as the Alzheimer’s develops, you will have to develop your strategies too.
However, there are a few things that everyone can do to help cope. Establishing a regular routine is the first way to reduce stress and tension. Doing the same things over and again might be boring for you but it will help reduce the number of surprises for your relative. Offering choices is also a good way to help empower your relative who is likely to be aware of their reduced abilities. Even a choice of tops can make a difference.
Alzheimer’s is never an easy ride but it is crucial that you remember that even though you might be having a hard day, your relative is having a much harder time. Patience isn’t just a virtue, it is essential and you need to know that you have it before stepping in as a sole caregiver.