How to choose a dementia caregiver

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When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, a family’s life can turn upside down. In such situations, families may not know much about the disease, including what to expect with treatment and how soon before the dementia patient begins to need care that the family cannot capa- bly provide.

Over time, dementia patients’loved ones are likely to benefit from the expertise and assistance of qualified dementia caregiv- ers. It can be overwhelming for loved ones to offer the right level of care for someone who is unable to perform the activities of daily living. Bathing, medication manage- ment, dressing, and feeding are often very difficult for dementia patients.

The Alzheimer’s Association says that providing good care for someone with dementia goes beyond meeting basic needs. It also means finding caregivers who treat the whole person and provide an environment that can enable the per- son to be safe yet independent.

In order to get started, one should first assess the needs of their loved one with

dementia. How many services he or she will require depends on whether that per- son can use the bathroom, walk, eat, or bathe independently. Alz.org says care needs tend to be lesser in the early stages of dementia. However, during the middle and end stages of dementia, 24-hour su- pervision and potentially more intensive medical care may be necessary.

Some families start with a visiting care- giver who can come to the house. For ex- ample, a service like Visiting Angels is cer- tified to offer care according to advanced dementia care protocols after working with leading dementia specialists. Caregivers may offer companionship and helpful reminders. Others may assist clients with personal tasks. One key aspect of demen- tia care is preventing wandering. Alz.org indicates that six in 10 people with demen- tia will wander. A person with Alzheimer’s may not remember his or her name or ad- dress and can become disoriented, even in familiar places. Caregivers can put pro- tocols in place to help reduce wandering. Alert bracelets and GPS tracking devices can help in this regard as well.

At some point, caregivers can help fam- ilies transition someone with dementia to nursing facilities with memory care di- visions. Social workers and other aides may help families navigate the legalities of medical insurance and long-term care insurance as well as government assis- tance programs that may help offset the costs of more intensive care.

It’s never too soon to develop a care plan for someone with dementia. Qualified and compassionate caregivers can help ease the burden of dementia on patients and their families.

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