Lost in The Dark: Why Alzheimer in home care is important

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects the entire family. Studies show the majority of care for frail elderly relatives falls predominantly to the women in the family and the additional stress of caring for a dementia person takes a toll on their health. A growing population of informal dementia caregivers and CNAs experience chronic stress associated with extraordinary demands of caring for a relative with dementia. In some cases a caregiver is brought into the home to live in order to provide support 24-hours a day. The problem is that while the caregiver is sleeping at night, the patient may get up and wander around the house or even the neighborhood. There is one particular case where a family member reported their mother had walked out of the house in the middle of the night and fell outside, nearly breaking a hip. After that the family decided to have certified nursing assistants (CNAs) specifically designated to both day and night shifts.
 Even in the early stages, a person experiencing cognitive decline requires help. They can generally care for themselves but can’t find a name they want in conversation or forget why they walked into a room.  This seems minor but when they forget they have something cooking on the stove it becomes more dangerous. If the patient is a smoker they can fall asleep in bed with a cigarette or leave one burning in the other room. These scenarios and others are commonplace in persons with a progressive disease such as Alzheimer’s. As the patient experiences more severe symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, depressive symptoms or physical aggression it is even more important to have in-home care professionals work in shifts.The benefits of having a person, in any stage of cognitive decline, stay at home are well documented but there are challenges. Independent seniors may want to drive well past the time they are able to do so safely. When they have someone to do their shopping, get their prescriptions filled, take them to their doctor’s appointment and get them out walking, it makes a positive impact on their life and also provides reassurance to those who love them. Many people live in a different state than their elderly parent so caring for them on a day-to-day basis is not possible. Securing the services of a Nurse Registry is advantageous to both the family and the patient for many reasons including safety. Safety is the number one reason people consider an in home health care caregiver in the first place. The safety of an individual with Alzheimer’s Disease is increased when there are caregivers in two shifts caring for them. The day shift can keep the person active, engaged and stimulated. The night shift can insure the person does not wander or fall. The caregiver will be awake so the patient and their family can sleep soundly.Tips from the national institute of aging to address sleep problems:
• Encourage exercise during the day and limit daytime napping, but make sure that the person gets adequate rest during the day because fatigue can increase the likelihood of late afternoon restlessness.

• Try to schedule physically demanding activities earlier in the day. For example, bathing could be done in the morning, or the largest family meal could be served at midday.

• Set a quiet, peaceful tone in the evening to encourage sleep. Keep the lights dim, eliminate loud noises, and even play soothing music if the person seems to enjoy it.

• Try to keep bedtime at a similar time each evening. Developing a bedtime routine may help.

• Limit caffeine.

• Use night-lights in the bedroom, hall, and bathroom if the darkness is frightening or disorienting.

This blog is sponsored by Angel Care Nurse Registry

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