When your parent or loved one is diagnosed with a cognitive condition like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, you may go through a whole spectrum of emotions. Feelings of sadness, overwhelm, and anxiety is common; you’re certainly not alone in this experience. You might also be concerned about how to best care for your loved one at home as their condition progresses. There are a whole host of senior care options available for elders with dementia, from home health to residential senior living in Metairie. Alternatively, some families opt to provide care, particularly during the earlier stages of their loved one’s disease.

If you’re devising a care plan for your loved one following a dementia diagnosis, consider the following five areas:

1. The Home Environment

Conditions like Alzheimer’s disease can affect everything from judgment and behavior to depth perception and hearing. Adaptations to the home can go a long way in improving safety for seniors with dementia. For example, if you think your loved one may forget to turn off the stove, you may switch off the gas when it is not needed. If you’re concerned about them taking too much medication, you could lock prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines away and speak with your loved one’s physician about medication management. Storing hazardous chemicals and cleaning products somewhere secure is also necessary. If your relative struggles with depth perception or mobility, remove tripping hazards and install grab bars in the bathroom and other tricky areas. For a detailed and personalized analysis of your loved one’s home safety and useful adaptations to suit their needs, an occupational therapist can help.

2. Structure and Routine

At the earliest stages of dementia, implementing a regular daily routine can help seniors remember important activities to remain as independent as possible. The most successful routines focus on how a person has always preferred to do things. For example, if your loved one has always enjoyed a shower before breakfast or a mid-morning coffee, try incorporating these important daily rituals into their routine. You can help your relative maintain their preferred routine by providing written reminders or physical cues around the home, like clothes set out in the correct order and ready for dressing. Where it is safe and possible, allow your loved one to complete tasks independently, even if it takes a little longer; this autonomy can lead to a great sense of achievement.

3. Mentally Stimulating Activities 

As Alzheimer’s disease or dementia progresses, your loved one’s interests and hobbies may change. Introducing new activities your relative enjoys can be a great way to keep the brain active and enhance their quality of life. Finding new activities needn’t be complicated – consider what your loved one has always enjoyed and work around that theme. For example, if they enjoy Sudoku, they might like puzzle books, or if they’ve always been keen on arts and crafts, you could paint together or take up knitting. Many seniors with dementia enjoy listening to their favorite music and reminiscing on precious memories. So why not sit down with a hot cocoa, an old photo album, and a playlist of their favorite songs?

4. Keeping Track of Symptoms

Any senior’s needs are likely to change as they get older. A key feature of neurocognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s disease is their ever-changing nature. It can be one of the most difficult to contend with as a family caregiver. Over time, your loved one’s needs and wants might change. Whether these changes are subtle or drastic, staying mindful is essential. Keep a written log of your loved one’s symptoms, jotting down any differences you notice daily. Simple adaptations to their care plan that account for new needs and preferences could make a world of difference to their well-being. Talk with their physician if you’re unsure how to amend your loved one’s care to improve their quality of life and meet changing needs.

5. Staying Informed and Seeking Professional Guidance

While the points discussed in this article are a great place to start, every patient and family’s circumstances are unique. If you plan to care for your loved one at home, speaking to their physician for more tailored advice is vital. They may also be able to point you toward valuable resources to help you stay up to date on the latest in dementia care and local support groups for family caregivers.

When Is It Time for Residential Assisted Living with Memory Care?

Even with all the planning, preparation, and professional input in the world, there may come a time when you can no longer care for your loved one at home. Being unable to provide advanced care is never a failure but rather a natural progression of a condition that typically requires professional support. In a senior living facility offering memory care, residents with dementia can access tailored care delivered by experienced professionals. Family caregivers can be granted the respite and support they deserve.

Here are just a few indicators that residential memory care might be the next positive step for your loved one:

-They are experiencing increased agitation or anxiety that you cannot help with.
-They are struggling to maintain their hygiene.
-They are disoriented or confused, and this is affecting their safety.
-Their living space is becoming overly cluttered and/or hazardous.
-They are socially isolated or lonely.
-You are beginning to feel overwhelmed in your role as a family caregiver.
-Their symptoms are causing them or you to feel unsafe.

To discover how we strive to support seniors with dementia and their families, get in touch today to arrange a tour of our exceptional residential assisted living and memory care communities in Metairie.