Many people desire to keep their loved ones at home. However caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other dementia is very challenging to manage in the home setting. One of the biggest challenges is that it is very exhausting for the caregiver.
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The Challenges with Alzheimer’s
With this disease, many patients exhibit erratic behaviors, get agitated easily, wander, and some may experience a phenomenon known as sun-downing.
Sun downing is when a patient with Alzheimer’s experiences increased confusion late in the day or at night. This is more common in the mid to later stages of the illness. One effective way to reduce the effects of sundowning is to use Light Therapy Lamps.
What is Sun Downing and How to Reduce the effects
Sun downing, simply put, is when a loved one’s symptoms seem to worsen later in the day or evening, causing them to become confused or irritated. This generally occurs in mid to late stages of the disease and can become extremely difficult to deal with for the caregiver. Listed below are some ways to help reduce the effects and make it easier for both the caregiver and your loved one.
- Stick to a daily routine, doing the same tasks at the same time and in the same way each day
- Keep wake and bed times at approximately the same time every day
- Have your loved one stay active during the day and limit naps
- Lighting can be very helpful. Florescent Lamps that emit is bluish white has been proven to mimic daylight and help with circadian rhythm, making the bedtime transition easier
- Having larger meals at lunch time instead of dinner can also help with night time sleep, as your loved ones body won’t be focusing on digestion as they try to rest
- Limiting television can help limit irritability
- Soft music is a great alternative for entertainment
Options and Resources Available to Help Care for People with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
When it comes to caring for your loved one it can become very exhausting, both mentally and physically and you may need added support to help keep them in the home. Additionally, you may have a full time job and are not able to be home with them during the day. Some thing to consider are the following:
- Companion Care
- Home Health Services
- Resident Care Facililities
Some insurances either help with costs or completely cover these services, though some are self pay. Another option to consider is adult daycare which can be a great resource for many reasons.
- Provides a safe environment for your loved one while you are away at work
- Gives them socialization to help keep then engaged and stimulated
- They are surrounded by staff trained to cope with individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s and Dementia
- Many of these are subsidizes by county programs and are available on sliding scale
How to Assess When it is Time to Seek Additional Support for your Loved Ones Care
Is the level of care needed becoming too much for you to handle on your own at home?
Are you struggling with work and other commitments in order to keep up with your loved ones care?
Has it become unsafe for your loved one to be left home alone and unattended for any length of time?
Is the physical and/or mental health of you or your loved one declining due to the current situation?
I hope you found this information useful. Regardless of how and where you decide is the best way to care for your aging loved one with dementia, it is important to remember that they are more than their disease.
The average life expectancy after diagnosis is eight to 10 years but in some cases it can be as short as 2-3 years. So make the most of the time you have remaining with your loved one. Your loved one can still feel very real emotions and personal connection. They may not remember your name but they know the feeling that they get when in your presence! Your voice, touch, smile, and interactions mean something to them! Continue to nurture your relationship, because when they are gone it is those memories that you will cherish forever.