I am a nurse practitioner for a large primary care physician practice. An increasing number of our patients have Alzheimer’s disease or a similar form of dementia. Their families often struggle to find ways to keep them safe at home. We receive a few phone calls every week from adult children asking us for dementia caregiver tips and advice.
We are trying to put an educational event together that will offer tips for caregivers of dementia patients. Since Griswold works with so many seniors who have dementia, we thought you might be able to share some information and resources.
5 Tips for Helping Dementia Patients
Safety is one of the struggles families cite most often, as it sounds like you have already discovered. Alzheimer’s creates many challenges that family caregivers are often not sure how to handle.
I do have a few tips for dementia caregivers you might find useful in developing your presentation.
- Use GPS technology: It is an unfortunate reality that 3 out of 5 people with Alzheimer’s will wander. Locating them quickly is vital to their safe return. One way to do that is by purchasing a GPS tracking device. It can be a watch or pendant or even an innersole that fits in a shoe. These devices often work off of wireless technology that allows families to determine a loved one’s location in real time.
- Manage medication: Another safety consideration is how to stay on track with medication. Seniors with early Alzheimer’s might be living alone but becoming increasingly forgetful. There are several different types of electronic pill dispensers that can help. Hiring an in-home caregiver is another solution.
- Practice kitchen safety: Staying safe while preparing meals is another challenge, whether the senior lives alone or with loved ones. Walking away and forgetting about a pan cooking on the stove is a risk that increases as the disease progresses. A device called Cook Stop might help. It senses when a pan on the stove has been unattended too long and turns the stove off.
- Monitor finances: Another tip for dementia caregivers relates to money. Adults with memory impairment often develop poor judgment. When combined with forgetfulness, it can make managing financial affairs difficult. Seniors with dementia will pay some bills twice while neglecting others. They also fall victim to scams and fraud more often because their judgment is compromised. Depending on what stage of the disease a senior is in, families can assist them by monitoring accounts online or by managing all of the senior’s finances for them.
- Ensure home safety: One thing we often suggest to families is that they conduct a home safety audit of wherever the senior lives. Look for potential hazards such as knives and toxic cleaning products. The Alzheimer’s Association’s Safety at Home Guide is a good resource to refer to for the safety audit.
I hope these ideas make it easier to get started. Best of luck with your program! It sounds like something families will truly appreciate.