Alzheimer’s is one of the most prevalent diseases that affect older adults today. Even though promising research is being done to combat it, Alzheimer’s continues to plague approximately 5.3 million people in the United States alone. And it’s equally as hard on friends and family. For instance, in 2014, it’s estimated that caregivers helping dementia sufferers provided 17.9 billion hours in unpaid labor. If your loved one has this condition, below are a list of Alzheimer’s programs that could prove invaluable to both you and them.
The need for additional help at home is almost inevitable for Alzheimer’s patients. As cognition begins to decline, families must often choose between home care and facility placement. The former can often keep older adults in their homes, allowing families the peace of mind that their loved ones’ health and safety are looked after. Home care services can include cooking, light housekeeping, personal care, and transport. Services can be contracted for only a few hours a week, a few days a week, overnight, on a live-in basis, or even 24-hours a day.
Alzheimer’s patients have more complicated needs than older adults. In addition to any other illnesses they may be coping with, their decreased cognition makes it difficult for them to plan, organize, and evaluate. Often, family members find themselves overwhelmed when trying to do these things for the patient. Care management can be a lifesaver when you need help arranging medical care, assessing home safety and medication effectiveness, and performing long-term planning.
It can be difficult to process and comprehend all the information received at doctors’ appointments — even if you don’t have Alzheimer’s. And although you’d like to be at all your loved one’s checkups, that isn’t always possible. Medical management can provide escorts to these appointments and explain your options, as well as pick up medications and help organize and monitor them at home.
Another area that Alzheimer sufferers often have difficulty with is finances, which requires higher-level cognitive skills. If they can no longer manage their money, other aspects of their lives can go downhill quickly. They may lose their savings and homes, limiting their options for the future. Then, families and other caregivers often find themselves shouldering the older adult’s costs. Procuring services such as a financial advisor can help your loved one remain on firm fiscal footing.
Adult day clubs
Unfortunately, the very nature of Alzheimer’s can be isolating. As memories and communication skills decline, so does the patient’s ability to interact with other people. Not only is this interaction vital for all ages, but it is especially helpful in delaying the progression of Alzheimer’s. Adult day clubs, where your loved one can go for socialization, intellectual stimulation, and creative activities can be a blessing to patients and families alike. Now you never have to worry that your loved one is alone, unsafe, or lonely during the weekday.
Memory assessment services
One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s is a waning memory, as well as the ability to process and recall newly-learned information. In order to protect your loved one, a plan of action is called for. However, it can be difficult to know exactly how to create this plan when you don’t know what kind of recall or decision-making capacity is left. That’s when a memory assessment can be invaluable.
Explore Alzheimer’s programs now
The best time to look into Alzheimer’s programs is when your loved one is first diagnosed. Although it may seem tempting to wait until they “need it,” the truth is that the sooner they get support, the better. This is a sound strategy — both in terms of delaying the worst symptoms of the disease as well as protecting the older adult’s safety. So feel free to talk to your loved one, their physician, or anyone else involved in their care about what programs are right for them.
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home care for older adults. Contact us to find out more.