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Helping Caregivers Provide Better Dementia Care At Home

An idea for families to help hired caregivers provide superior home care.

Most people who suffer from dementia, which is essentially brain loss of some kind or another, will lose motivation to do the things they always used to do. Aside from losing motivation to clean their home or keep up with good hygiene, they often lose interest in hobbies and activities. This can come from self consciousness, especially if the person used to be social and doesn’t want friends and acquaintances to know that they are struggling with memory loss. The shame that can come with this diagnosis is astounding, to the point where people will mask for as long as possible.

Usually, by the time hired help is brought in, either with home care or moving the individual to a memory care community, the person is at a later stage of dementia and is no longer self motivated.

At home, hired care givers will generally have some training and understanding of memory loss. Some companies provide additional dementia training for their caregivers to provide superior care; however, at the end of the day, every individual is different and this caregiver you hired didn’t know your loved one before they were inflicted.

I like to offer families an idea, which can be fun for everyone involved. Create an activity box for your loved one. This box will include items that spark memories or joy for your loved one. I like to use a large plastic bin that can be easily stored and labeled for the caregiver to access when they are supervising your loved one.

Be creative and think of the person that your loved one once was. Maybe make-up and hair accessories for your “put-together” aunt who used to always wear lipstick to get the mail. Add sports memorabilia for your dad who loves the local baseball team. Add an art book for your artistic mother who used to love to paint and create things.

You can add as many things as you want to your activity box. The more things you add, the more options the caregiver will have to engage your loved one while they are supervising. Old pictures might also inspire reminiscing as well as old magazines. It sounds strange, but maybe even a baby doll and baby clothes. Often times, someone’s memories of their younger life might be all they can access and if they had children, they may want to take care of a baby. If the person was artistic, you might want to include adult coloring books, fake flower and vases for flower arranging or other non-toxic art supplies. This activity box can be ever evolving but it will definitely be a way to help your hired caregiver engage your loved one. At end stages, you may only have a few items that will still work.

Music is also another thing that many people with dementia will relate to. Provide a way for the caregiver to play music for your loved one and give them options of what might be favorites.

Many people with dementia fall into a routine of sitting idle, possibly with the television on, or exit seeking. Many caregivers will just sit and watch their client, so having options to re-direct them will help your hired caregiver better engage and care for your loved one while you aren’t there. This will make their job easier and more enjoyable and it will stimulate and ease the stress of having a stranger in the home of your loved one. It will help them create a bond, even if it’s only for a few hours. Also, the boxes can be utilized by family members and friends who come to visit. It makes for easy access to stimulation for your loved one with dementia, regardless of who is supervising them.

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