According to John Hopkins Medicine, the majority of the 5.8 million people in the United States living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia will live in their own homes at some point during their illness. Some patients receive memory loss care at home by a nurse or other professional caregivers. Others will be taken care of by their own family members.
It can be challenging to care for a loved one when you have not been trained in memory care. It’s important to equip yourself with knowledge for their sake as well as yours. If this is your reality, here’s what you need to know about taking care of a loved one with memory loss at home.
There is often confusion between the terms dementia and Alzheimer’s when talking about memory loss. Put simply, dementia is an umbrella term describing someone who has impairment to their memory, judgment and thinking skills. It’s a step beyond normal age-related forgetfulness, which affects many older people who do not suffer from dementia.
Alzheimer’s is one of several conditions that can cause dementia, but not all dementia is Alzheimer’s. The latter typically progresses and becomes worse over time. It’s important to get a diagnosis so you can provide the right level of care for your loved one.
When you are living with a memory-impaired older adult, it’s important to create a comfortable and predictable environment. Make it “memory friendly” by placing commonly used items in easy-to-find places. Keep possessions organized with minimal clutter (this might require some downsizing).
You can also create visual cues to help your loved one find what they need throughout the day. Use clear labels or picture cards as needed.
Finally, you will need to modify or remove any safety hazards. This is the most important to-do on your list for memory loss care at home. Adjustments might include:
The goal is to create a safe environment that allows your loved one to live as independently as possible.
While memory loss related to Alzheimer’s cannot be reversed, you can do stimulating activities to boost cognitive skills and provide some fun, as part of memory loss care. This can include activities such as arts and crafts, jigsaw puzzles, scrapbooking, word puzzles, playing chess and reading.
Try to find something you enjoy doing together with your loved one. Even if it does not provide health benefits, it’s a great opportunity to create meaningful memories.
Providing memory loss care to a loved one in your home can be draining. To avoid burnout, it’s necessary to take care of yourself. Be realistic about how much you can take on when balancing family, work, childcare and other responsibilities.
If possible, ask for support from other family members and friends. For example, ask a family member to help with your loved one’s care once a week at a regular time.
Remember, you can’t pour out of an empty cup. Sacrificing yourself to a breaking point isn’t helpful for anyone. You can provide the best care for your loved one when you are also taking care of yourself.
Taking care of a loved one with memory loss can be a full-time job, and sometimes it’s a good idea to bring in outside help. Advent Christian Village is a faith-based retirement community offering a wide scope of care, including companion services, in-home care, skilled nursing, assisted living and memory care. With a friendly environment, communicative staff and compassionate care, you can breathe easy knowing we are caring for your loved one as you would.
Learn more about our services or call 800.647.3353 to speak with a staff member today.