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Preparing for the Future

Whether or not your loved one is on treatment, planning ahead may help you and your loved one cope with the later stages of Alzheimerís disease. He or she may or may not still be living independently at the time of the Alzheimer's diagnosis, but since full-time care will eventually be necessary, it helps to have a plan for the future.

Preparing the Home

When preparing you or your loved one's home to be the primary care residence, you'll want to make changes as you would for any older person, but also consider the physical and mental disabilities unique to Alzheimer's disease when setting up or altering the environment.

Caregiver Insight

You don't need to make all of the changes to your home at once, but making them early on will help create a stable environment for the person to become accustomed to.

At the early stage, the person with Alzheimer's disease will mostly be experiencing cognitive decline, but later on it will be both cognitive and physical. The loss of the ability to walk is one major factor to consider. With that in mind, here are some safety considerations to make your home as safe as possible:

    • Rearrange and remove furniture to ensure a wheelchair, walker, or hospital bed can get through rooms and doorways.
    • Add cushioning to sharp corners, place non-skid tape on the edges of steps and on slippery floors, and consider using colored masking tape on glass doors and windows.
    • If the person with dementia (memory problems) is incontinent, consider getting pads that blend in with the upholstery.
    • Purchase a gate to place at the top of the stairs, and install safety locks and alarms where you think they might help.
    • Mirrors might be upsetting if the person with Alzheimer's isn't recognizing him or herself. Consider covering them up or removing them.

    Caregiver Insight

    You don't need to make all of the changes to your home at once, but making them early on will help create a stable environment for the person to become accustomed to.

HIRING PAID HELP

There is no one right time to get extra help in caring for your loved one, but typically, this step becomes necessary when the person with Alzheimer's disease can no longer safely be left alone. (Check out these tips on safe-proofing your home.) However, you may opt to take this step earlier in the case of a hospitalization or illness, or if you, the Alzheimer's caregiver, become sick. In instances like these, home care can be a temporary thing.

  • TYPES OF HOME CARE SPECIALISTS TO CONSIDER:

    • Registered Nurse
    • Licensed Practical Nurse
    • Certified Nurse's Aide
    • Home Health Aide

    Caregiver Insight

    If your loved one lives in an apartment, consider hanging a personalized item from the front doorknob to make home easier to find.

    MAKING GROUP HOME ARRANGEMENTS:

    Not everyone has a place where they can accommodate their loved one. Depending on your exact situation, you may find that it makes more sense to move the person you care for into a group facility when they start requiring around-the-clock care. Below are some tips on choosing the right place for you.

    Caregiver Insight

    It's hard to think ahead to your loved one being in the severe stage of Alzheimer's disease, but many group homes have long waiting lists and you will thank yourself for getting on the list early.

    • Find out if the facility you are interested in sends people to Alzheimer's patient' homes for meet-and -greets, or, if possible, take your loved one to visit the facility.
    • Schedule an appointment with your loved one's doctor to get the required medical forms filled out. Make a list for the caregiving staff to keep on file.
    • Once you've chosen a group home, find out how they handle refilling medications—some places do it themselves while others require you to do it.

    Caregiver Insight

    It's hard to think ahead to your loved one being in the severe stage of Alzheimer's disease, but many group homes have long waiting lists and you will thank yourself for getting on the list early.

Telling People about the Alzheimer's Diagnosis

Telling your loved one and others about the Alzheimer's diagnosis is often difficult, but there are ways you can make it easier on yourself and on your loved one. Plus, the more people you loop in, the more support you will receive—and the less you'll have to pretend that everything is OK. Here are some tips:

    • If you suspect that your loved one won't respond well to the Alzheimer's diagnosis, consider using friendlier wording such as "memory problems" versus "Alzheimer's disease."
    • Discuss how you plan to tell others about the Alzheimer's diagnosis. You may want to tell select friends and relatives one by one, or you may want to write a letter or email.
    • Know that not understanding the disease may cause some friends and family members to be unsure of how to respond to the news. Others may not believe the Alzheimer's diagnosis at first—especially if the person appears to be healthy.
    • Let people know that calls, cards, letters, and visits are welcome, and when the best times to visit will be. List suggestions for those who ask if and how they can help.

Learn more about hiring and working with a professional Alzheimerís caregiver to help your loved one.

Learn more about hiring and working with a professional Alzheimerís caregiver to help your loved one.

Youíre not alone. Learn how to ask for help from friends and family or other Alzheimerís caregivers.

Youíre not alone. Learn how to ask for help from friends and family or other Alzheimerís caregivers.

10/15 T-EXP-1318386

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