Dementia is a term that you may commonly hear, and many aging loved ones have this diagnosis by itself or along with other diagnoses. As a result, they may need help at home. On this page we will provide information that is specifically related to dementia. We will define dementia and provide resources to help you learn even more about dementia. We will also share how our care for people who have dementia is advantageous as a result of our pro-active, ongoing caregiver training, our relationships with related organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association, and our communication systems when we meet your aging loved one and as we provide care. Other pages we recommend you visit on our website include Disease-Specific Care, and Safety and Supervision, which will expand your understanding of home care and your ability to advocate for your aging loved one’s needs.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases.”
One of the many challenges of caring for someone with dementia is that their needs may be inconsistent, constantly changing and/or worsening. Dementia also affects each person differently. What you feel is a logical response to a behavior, may actually lead to increased confusion and agitation in a person who has dementia.
Home care is a positive and sometimes necessary intervention when your aging loved one has dementia and they want to remain in their familiar and preferred home environment. Our Private Services department serves many clients who have dementia. Every Cooperative Home Care caregiver completes annual training to understand dementia and Alzheimer’s, including practical instruction on how to assist someone who has dementia. We also offer Crisis Prevention Intervention (“CPI”) training, which is designed to promote care, welfare, safety and security for both clients and their caregivers.
Our Intake Nurse is available directly, 24/7, to take your call. When you contact her, she can answer your questions and schedule your free assessment. The free assessment is completed by the Cooperative Home Care Case Manager who will be responsible for choosing the best caregivers for you, and who will assemble a consistent team of caregivers who are the best match for you. Even if you are receiving only a few hours of care per week, it is ideal to have more than one caregiver, so that you have a back-up caregiver who has developed a relationship with your loved one. This consistency is desirable for the client and their family. When the client has dementia, consistency is especially important to help minimize their confusion and agitation if possible. During the
free assessment, our Case Manager will ask questions to learn about your aging loved one, and collaborate with you to design a care plan that is reviewed with your caregivers when they are assigned a shift. The care plan provides a respectful and detailed summary of your aging loved one’s needs. This empowers our caregivers to plan their interactions to be effective for a person with dementia. It also means you will not have to extensively train every caregiver who assists your aging loved one, because they will already have a thorough understanding of their client’s needs, as well as thorough training and practical instruction in how to assist someone with dementia provided by Cooperative Home Care.
Cooperative Home Care’s Case Manager assisting you will also communicate with you regularly to update you on how your aging loved one with dementia is doing. They work with you to determine how you prefer to be contacted (phone call, e-mail, or even texting) and how often. If your aging loved one is confused and agitated as a result of their dementia, our ongoing communication helps to identify what is happening, so that we can promptly intervene with proven strategies to minimize confusion and agitation if possible. These interventions include creating and following a consistent schedule. It is also helpful to let your aging loved one make decisions, even if they are small, such as choosing if they will have breakfast before or after their shower. Re-directing someone who is confused is also helpful. Some individuals with dementia enjoy sharing old, familiar stories or listening to the music they enjoyed when they were younger. We can incorporate all of these strategies into their care plan, and continue to adjust and improve the care plan to make it as effective as possible.
Your aging loved one with dementia may be successful with some assistance when they are in their structured routine in their home environment. This may change when they are not in this familiar home environment. For example, if they must leave their home to stay overnight in a hospital or care facility, this may suddenly cause them to become very disoriented, confused and agitated. This can feel very scary and overwhelming for them and for you! A way to make this less stressful, when it is a planned event, is to have a caregiver for a 12 or 24-hour shift at the hospital. If an unplanned event has led to their hospitalization and/or rehabilitation facility stay, do not worry, because you can contact our Intake Nurse 24/7 and request a 12-hour, or ongoing 12-hour shifts, to keep your loved one as at-ease as possible in the unfamiliar environment. You may opt to continue care as they return home as long as it is needed, too.
If your aging loved one has dementia, we are prepared to meet their needs through our training and communication. We want you to feel comfortable sharing your observations of how their dementia affects their ability to function in their daily life. This information will not prevent them from receiving services, instead it helps us provide the best, most customized services possible. Please be open in your communications. While what you share may seem very foreign, strange and unusual to you, we have observed similar actions and behaviors because of the many, many people we have served with dementia. It will help us provide the very best care possible when you are open and honest about your loved one.
We also recommend that you learn more about other resources that may be helpful for you. Memory Care Home Solutions is a non-profit organization in St. Louis that works with clients and their families to develop and implement a comprehensive care plan. They accept donations for their services which are provided for free for those who qualify. They host fundraising events throughout the year to be able to provide these valuable services.