November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. In 2020 nearly 6 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s. It sometimes occurs in younger people, but the risk increases every five years after the age of 65. The CDC projects there will be 14 million Americans dealing with this form of dementia. 

A person with Alzheimer’s struggles with progressive memory loss and language limitations. This sets up a situation where caregivers provide more care than other long-term, chronic conditions (about 15% more). As a result, the demands begin to take a toll, including increased anxiety and depression. So what do you do when you feel overwhelmed?

Reach out. There is no reason for you to do everything alone. There are agencies like VMT Home Health in Washington, D.C. standing by to deliver high-quality home care for people with dementia. An aid can provide relief by helping with many daily needs, including bathing, cooking, and socialization, while always ensuring people retain their dignity.

We have specialized services, including those focused on the unique needs of Alzheimer’s patients. Do you need a multi-lingual helper? Is someone sensitive to your cultural and religious needs? We have both.

But what about the in-between times when you don’t have an aid? What are the risk factors for which you should be on the lookout?

  • Scheduling. Alzheimer’s patients benefit from a daily routine. When it gets out of whack, confusion increases.
  • Rushing: People with this condition have their kind of pacing, and they need it.
  • Retreat: It’s common for individuals to retreat, especially if they feel like a burden. Keep them involved, including in decision-making for their care if possible. 
  • Keep it simple: Clear, on-step direction avoids some confusion.
  • Repetitive patterns: A person may want to wear the same outfit all the time and become enraged if you try to stop them. Solution: Buy several of the same outfits. 
  • Safety: Avoid rugs that slip, cords, and clutter that the person might trip over. Install grab rails throughout the house. 
  • Lock it up: If any cabinets have potentially dangerous items (medicine, guns, lighters, matches, cleaning supplies, etc.), they’re best locked. When a person wanders, they may go looking through cupboards out of habit. 
  • Check the stove, and if possible, get child-proof switch covers. Tinkering with a stove can turn into a disaster.

Since every person struggling with Alzheimer’s experiences the progression and symptoms differently, take notes and stay aware. The individual touches matter. For example, if someone continually asks about a dead partner, there’s no need to cause further trauma. Instead, redirect the conversation to stories and memories to avoid repeated grief. 

At VMT we recognize the importance of education. It arms you with tools for coping with burnout, among other things. Along with the help and support you get from family and friends, we can help you overcome the challenges you face. If you’d like more information, contact us online, or call 202-282-3004.

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