As an increasing percentage of the aging population elects to remain age in place, issues that arise with aging become an important factor in maintaining a healthy and safe lifestyle while remaining at home. Alzheimer’s is a disease that occurs most often in people 65 and older, and its progressive symptoms can have a devastating effect on the life of the person suffering from the disease as well as their loved ones. There are a few important measures that can be taken to make living at home a viable, long-term option.

Know the Signs of Alzheimer’s

Rather than being caught in a crisis because the disease has progressed without treatment or other measures to alleviate the problem, people over the age of 65 should be aware of the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s. According to the National Institute of Aging (part of the National Institutes of Health), some of the signs of mild Alzheimer’s include:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Poor judgment,  leading to bad decisions
  • Loss of spontaneity and sense of initiative
  • Losing track of dates or knowing current location
  • Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks
  • Repeating questions or forgetting recently learned information
  • Trouble handling money and paying bills
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Wandering and getting lost
  • Losing things or misplacing them in odd places
  • Difficulty completing tasks such as bathing
  • Mood and personality changes
  • Increased anxiety and/or aggression

If you or a person you love is exhibiting several of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical advice as soon as possible. An early diagnosis brings a range of benefits, from medical treatment to slow the progression of the disease to additional time and space to cope with the changes that come with dementia and other aspects of Alzheimer’s.

Prepare the Home for Changing Needs

Older people with Alzheimer’s don’t all manifest their disease in the same way. However, being aware of the existing or possible symptoms following a diagnosis makes it easier to assess the needs of the person and make changes in the home for increased comfort and safety. Installing safety bars in the bathroom, changing door knobs to levers and thinking strategically about locks, and rearranging closets, storage, and kitchens to make it easier to access regularly used items are some of the adjustments that may take some getting used to. As such, it is better to do them as soon as possible so that the person with Alzheimer’s can get accustomed to the changes. If you aren’t sure about what changes are a good idea, work with a professional to have a home safety assessment.

Set Up Routines

For both the person with Alzheimer’s and their caretakers and loved ones, the diminishing capacity to plan and execute on activities of daily living can impact health, safety, and comfort. By establishing routines around medication (sorting out doses and planning when to take it), bathing, eating, and other critical activities, the household becomes a stable environment that can be a source of comfort and familiarity for the person with Alzheimer’s and also makes it easier for primary caretakers to get occasional assistance. Writing down the routines and sticking to them gives the household more time for other activities that bring meaning and pleasure.

Get Support

Alzheimer’s is a devastating illness that impacts the life of patients and their loved ones. As the disease progresses, it can become increasingly necessary to help the patient with many aspects of their life. Meanwhile, the cognitive decline and emotional changes in the patient can be incredibly difficult. Families who want to allow their loved ones to stay at home should plan for the challenge by thinking of ways to get support. This can include letting neighbors know about the diagnosis so they can keep an eye out for the patient should they wander off. It can also include seeking respite care – which is available through local government agencies like The Arc Montgomery County or through professional providers with expertise in memory care.

CarePlus provides a full range of homecare services to people in Montgomery County and surrounding areas. With caregivers trained in memory care, our team is able to offer compassionate, professional care that assures the safety and comfort of a loved one dealing with Alzheimer’s. We can begin with a complimentary in-home safety assessment. Contact us today to learn how we can be of service.