How to Manage Care for a Loved One with Dementia or Alzheimer’s

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HomeWell Care Services

For more information about the author, click to view their website: Homewell Cares

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Dec 20, 2021

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Florida - Sarasota, Bradenton & Charlotte Counties , Florida - Southwest

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For more information on Homewell Care Services, click here.
Taking care of my grandma became a reality for me after the death of my mother in 2009. My grandma had been forgetting things leading up to that time, but the passing of my mother put that into fast forward. Suddenly, I was responsible for all my grandmas financial payments and making decisions for her health that I thought no grandchild should have to decide. Nobody told me what to expect or what signs to look for in my grandma. I remember the day she had been admitted to the hospital and the doctor said, You must decide whether to sign the DNR or not. She has Alzheimer's and she no longer has the mental capacity to decide for herself.
I had been told that my grandma had dementia, but no one warned me to have conversations with her about what she wants in the future regarding her health because there will come a time she cannot. She was no longer the grandparent I remembered from my childhood the one who cared so much about her clothes being just so and her hair being styled every week. She became a person I hardly knew one who no longer noticed if her hair was even combed or if she had on clean clothes. In her mind, everything was about 20 years behind where we were. She thought I was my mom and called me her name most of the time. She thought my brother was my uncle and my son was my brother. She would stare long and hard at my Great-Aunt (her sister) like she knew her but could not place her. However, she would refer to her all the time, so I knew in her mind she remembered her. It was a hard reality for me. It frustrated me. I would be so mad at her for not remembering something I had literally only told her seconds before. It took me a long time to get past that.
I prayed for patience a lot during those days. I would stubbornly correct her with names or fuss at her for lying that she did not do something like take the TV or the medicine machine apart when at that time she lived alone and was the only person in the house. Thinking back, I didn't have a lot of patience and it is something for which I now feel bad. But no one, including the doctors, told me what to expect or how to deal with it. I wanted her to still be the grandma I knew growing up and I could not understand how it had changed so quickly right before my eyes. The burden of taking care of her was too great on me alone. I was working full-time, my husband was deployed, I had a teenager involved in multiple school activities, my mother who I was really close to had passed and I was spending every weekend at my grandmas house trying to catch up on the laundry, do housework, fill her medications, and take her to the grocery store. My grandma had her right leg amputated in 2000, so she was in a wheelchair where even trips to the doctor were a challenge and not a quick outing.
Then a friend gave me a great piece of advice. Get help! I went searching. My grandma was on Social Security and did not have a lot of disposable income. I did not think she could afford to pay for assisted living and was not sure that she was ready to really be in a nursing home. I was fortunate to find a wonderful social worker at one of the facilities I had been checking who mentioned in-home care services. What were those? I did not know these services even existed. I reached out to a home care company and found out this was something my grandma could afford.
The relief of knowing a caregiver was going to be there to make her meals, help while she was bathing and assist with light housekeeping was the peace of mind I did not know I was missing. As some of the burden of caring for my grandma was taken off my shoulders, I got to care for my grandma more. I was able to just spend time with her versus having to be on the go the whole time I had dedicated. We could have lunch and put together puzzles. Really, I put together puzzles and she mostly watched. She got to where she still loved to look at things but could no longer tell how something went together, play dominoes without help, play bingo with the group of ladies in her senior residence or even read.
My grandma still asked me the same questions over and over or called me my moms name, even though I told her I was her granddaughter. She would tell her sister I had not been to visit or called when I had only left a few minutes before. She would ask why my grandpa, who had passed away before I was born, had not been to visit. It would make her sad and then a couple minutes later, she would ask me why he had not visited again. I was still finding myself frustrated with her.
Then one day, I came across an article about caring for a parent (or grandparent) who has dementia or Alzheimer's and how to cope when they talk about the past as if its the present. Should you go along with it or tell them the truth. The article said enter their reality and enjoy it. She does not need to be oriented. If she spends most of her time thinking it is 20 years ago, go with it. Ask questions she did not have time for before. Ask her about her time as a child growing up. Learn about your grandparents when they were young. If she tells the same story over and over, appreciate it as if it is your favorite song. This is not playing along to appease her. This is an opportunity to communicate and have some treasured memories for later. That article really stuck with me. I tried it. It worked.
My grandma was happier because in the moment, I was not telling her that the person she was referring to was no longer alive. I would agree with her that I was my mom, and it made her happy. Or my grandpa had just been so busy, he had not had time to get by. She would hold on to my arm and babble on about nothing, but she was content. I was content! I was no longer the frustrated person I had been. It made spending time with her more precious. I still went every week and even years later when she had been moved to a nursing home, and we both enjoyed it more. She was really a funny person sometimes embarrassingly so as she no longer had a filter for anything she said. But that was what endeared her so much to her caregivers.
I wish I had found the article sooner but grateful at least I did. The last few years with my grandma were so much better. She passed away in 2020, but I felt so much more peace by that time, knowing I had spent some very happy last years with her.

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Non-Medical 13100 Westlinks Terrace, Fort Myers, Florida, 33913

Our Approach:HomeWell Care Services is committed to providing the highest quality of in-home care and peace of mind for families in Lee and Northern Collier Counties. We offer personalized care plans tailored to each individual's needs.Our Services:We offer a range of services to meet your needs, including companion care, personal care, specialty care, and more. Our signature programs, such as GoHomeWell and SureStep, are designed to safeguard and strengthen your well-being for the long term.Types of Care:Companion Care: Providing companionship and a quality home life environment.Personal Care: Assisting with basic tasks of daily living to maintain independence.Specialty Care: Additional support for advanced health issues.Hospice Care Support: Providing comfort and care for those with terminal illnesses.Palliative Care Support: Enhancing quality of life for individuals with serious illnesses.Fall Prevention: Implementing strategies to reduce the risk of falls.Low Vision: Supporting individuals with vision impairments.Respite Care: Providing temporary relief for primary caregivers.Alzheimers & Dementia Care: Specialized care for those with memory loss.Chronic Conditions Care: Managing care for individuals with ongoing health issues.Transportation: Assisting with transportation to appointments and errands.Transitional Care: Supporting individuals transitioning from hospital to home.Couples Care: Providing care for couples who wish to remain together.Elderly Support: Addressing the unique needs of elderly individuals.Adults under 65: Providing care for adults under 65 with specific needs.Facility Support: Supporting care facilities with staffing and care management.Frequency of Care:Hourly: Care provided on an hourly basis as needed.24-Hour: Around-the-clock care for those who require constant support.Live-in: Caregivers live with clients to provide continuous care.HomeWell Cares:Our commitment to compassionate care extends beyond our services. We actively engage with our community through our Front Porch Blog, providing valuable resources and information.Meet the Team:Our team of dedicated professionals is here to support you every step of the way. From our expert Care Managers to our compassionate caregivers, we are committed to your well-being.Jobs:Interested in joining our team? Explore career opportunities with HomeWell Care Services and make a difference in the lives of others.Partnerships:We collaborate with local organizations and healthcare providers to ensure our clients receive comprehensive care and support.Resources:Access helpful resources, including guides on how to talk to your aging loved one about home care and determining if home care is right for your family.Contact Us:For more information about our services or to schedule a consultation, please contact us at 239-666-2339.

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