When it comes to treatment for dementia, the medical profession has made great strides in recent decades. We now have a better understanding of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as other conditions that affect cognitive functions in the elderly. There are new treatment modalities, including medications that can delay the diseases’ progression and may temporarily alleviate symptoms. However, the sad fact is that we have not yet found a cure for these illnesses, and a great deal of addressing them involves simply coping with their existence. It’s for this reason that home care has become such an important part of the dementia treatment spectrum.
Home care keeps seniors in a familiar environment
Alzheimer’s, like many dementia-related illnesses, affects parts of the brain responsible for processing new information. This is why many people with Alzheimer’s can remember people and events from decades ago, but newer acquaintances and things that occurred recently are quickly forgotten.
It is believed that keeping such seniors in a familiar environment may help them function better with the disease. If the patient is able to continue living in their own home, they will not have to process the new information inherent in a big move — such as one to a nursing home or assisted living facility. Although these environments do have their place in the treatment for dementia, they also involve the senior learning new names, faces, rules, locations, and directions.
By having a nurse or home health aide visit the senior at home, the need for assimilating large quantities of new information is eliminated. This allows the senior to focus on already-made memories, which are typically some of the last to go in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s.
Home care gives patients the emotional support they need
Home care isn’t only a good idea for more productive brain function – it may also be needed to help manage the emotional and mental aspects of the disease. The majority of seniors today prefer to remain in their own homes as they age — regardless of whether or not they have Alzheimer’s.
But for the senior who does, aging-in-place has special significance. Learning one has Alzheimer’s can be heartbreaking and traumatic. If the patient still has good self-awareness, they now know they’ll be faced with the slow and certain loss of their independence — and possibly their personality. Being able to stay at home during these stressful and uncertain times can offer a huge degree of comfort and security.
Home care provides crucial one-on-one assistance
If you’re a caretaker for a senior with Alzheimer’s, you may already be aware that they require a great deal of attention. This is especially true in the latter stages of the disease, where the patient may be prone to wandering, outbursts, or attempts at self-injury. Although nursing home and assisted living facilities are able to provide some degree of help, they usually do not have the staff to provide constant patient supervision. If your loved one requires this due to their stage of dementia or particular symptoms, it is usually a much safer option to secure home care. This way, a home health professional can be with them as long as they need, whether it’s a few hours a week, overnight, or even 24/7.
Consider home care as an option for the treatment of dementia
Although home care cannot cure dementia, the evidence for using it as a treatment technique is strong. Not only does it help with physical challenges associated with the disease, but it can help both patient and family with the emotional aspects as well. Much of the caregiver advice centering on Alzheimer’s (and similar conditions) involves keeping the patient comfortable. But it is equally important for their family and loved ones to enjoy any time they have with the person. Home care enables you to do both, making treatment for dementia a family affair – and a supportive one at that.
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 senior care. Contact us to find out more.