Most people who have Alzheimer's disease are cared for at home by family members and friends. Taking care of someone with the disease can be physically and emotionally draining, but there are ways to make it easier.
Home treatment involves teamwork among health professionals and caregivers to create a safe and comfortable environment and to make tasks of daily living as easy as possible. Some people with early or mild Alzheimer's disease can be involved in planning for the future and organizing the home and daily tasks.
One of the keys to successful home care is educating yourself. You can do a lot to make the most of the person's remaining abilities, manage the problems that develop, and improve the quality of his or her life as well as your own. Also remember that caregiving can be a positive experience for you and the person you are caring for.
Tips for caregivers
Work with the team of health professionals to:
- Reference Make a decision about driving.
- Reference Make sure your home is safe.
- Reference Keep the person eating well.
- Reference Manage sleep problems.
- Reference Manage bladder and bowel control problems.
The team can also help you learn how to manage behavior problems. For example, you can learn ways to:
- Reference Make the most of remaining abilities. Reinforce and support the person's efforts to remain independent, even if tasks take more time or aren't done perfectly.
- Reference Help the person avoid confusion.
- Reference Understand behavior changes.
- Reference Manage agitation.
- Reference Manage wandering.
- Reference Communicate clearly.
Caregivers should remember to Reference seek support from other family and friends. Groups such as the Alzheimer's Association and the Dementia Advocacy and Support Network can provide not only educational materials but also information on support groups and services. For more information, see the topic Reference Caregiver Tips.
Plan for the future
As Alzheimer's disease progresses, you have decisions to make about medical care and legal issues.
- A nursing home or assisted living. Providing care at home usually becomes more and more challenging. The decision to place a family member in a nursing home or other facility can be a very difficult one. But sometimes nursing home placement is the best choice.
- Palliative care. This is a kind of care for people who have illnesses that don't go away and that often get worse over time. Palliative care focuses on improving quality of life—not only in the body but also in the mind and spirit. Talk to your doctor if you are interested in this type of care. See the topic Reference Palliative Care.
- End-of-life care. You may want to discuss health care and other legal issues that may arise near the end of life. An Reference advance directive Opens New Window or Reference living will Opens New Window lets people with the disease give others their health care instructions. To learn more, see the topic Reference Care at the End of Life.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 29, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Myron F. Weiner, MD - Psychiatry, Neurology