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Homecare for Alzheimer's: First choice (Part 1/3 on Alzheimer's care)

05 November 2007
Bonnie Sandler, S.W., The Senior Times - November 2007

This article is the first of three discussing care for a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer ’s Disease/Related Disorders, from home care to choosing a care facility

The first choice in caring for someone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease is to keep the person at home for as long as possible. We all understand that caring for a family member diagnosed with Alzheimer ’s is an overwhelming and full-time commitment. The family caregivers — most often the spouse — will handle the situation on their own or with help from other relatives. This is especially common in the early and mid-stages of the disease.

The burden of caregiving has both a psychological and physical impact on the caregiver. As time passes, the disease progresses. Family caregivers may suffer from burnout. Sleep is interrupted and the caregiver ’s own needs are neglected. They live in a constant state of worry as the loved one is no longer able to be left on their own or able to manage the activities of daily living without assistance. Often the primary caregiver is over 65. The health of the caregiver must be considered and,at some point, outside help will be needed. There should be no shame or guilt in seeking assistance from home care agencies to help care for a loved one. No one person can fully and properly care for an Alzheimer ’s patient on her own.

Home resources are available through local CLSCs, The Veteran’s Association for those eligible for this service, and private hired care. Private care can be arranged directly through the family or through a home care agency. Involvement in an Alzheimer ’s organization may highlight what is available in your community. Membership in a support group for family caregivers of individuals diagnosed with AD/RD offers the opportunity to network with others and gather valuable resource information. Specialized day programs provide both respite for the caregiver and added stimulation for the Alzheimer individual.

Finding a paid caregiver with the proper training in caring for Alzheimer patients is of the utmost importance. This disease brings personality and behavioural changes that can be difficult for the untrained caregiver to manage. Someone without the proper training and experience can aggravate situations and cause stress to the patient. Time and care should be taken to find the right person to care for your loved one. Many home care agencies will provide training programs for their caregivers and some of these agencies specialize in providing qualified staff, specifically trained in dealing with this disease.

In The Montreal Gazette (October 26/07), Isabelle Merizzi, press attaché to Quebec Health Minister Philippe Couillard, defended the Government’s decision to close chronic care beds. She said, “What we are doing is transferring resources, on the Island of Montreal. We invested $104.3 million in home care in 2006-2007, and that amount will go up this year. ” She told the newspaper that elderly people don’t want to be in a CHSLD (chronic care facility), “They prefer to stay at home, supported with home care.”

Next month’s article will focus on the next step, when home care no longer works.

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Bonnie Sandler

Residential Real Estate Broker, Housing Consultant for Seniors

514 497-3775