If you are caring for an older family member, you’re likely aware of the spectrum of emotions involved. On one hand, it’s a great honor and extremely rewarding. Conversely, it can also be challenging, draining, and demanding. Add to that the additional challenges regarding cognitive loss, and it is easy to understand how family caregivers can quickly become overwhelmed.
Cognitive loss can occur slowly, or it can happen seemingly overnight, depending on the root cause (Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, traumatic brain injury, or Parkinson’s, to name a few). Regardless of the cause of a person’s cognitive decline, there are steps family members can take to deliver the greatest possible care.
- Observe the person’s baseline behaviors as well as the particular changes you are seeing.
- Make arrangements for a thorough exam with the primary care doctor for an exact diagnosis and to rule out other health issues.
- Ask the doctor for educational tools on the diagnosis in order to be fully informed as to what to anticipate, and to share with other family members.
- Examine the senior’s needs – both today and ongoing, as needs can be expected to evolve as time passes. Consider physical as well as emotional concerns, including their capacity to:
- Tend to personal hygiene tasks
- Deal with meals, laundry, housekeeping, as well as other chores around the house
- Maintain social ties and remain involved in meaningful activities
- Make it to medical visits, take care of grocery shopping, along with other needs outside of the home
- Remain safe: from falls, medication mismanagement, wandering, and more
- Create a plan to meet any needs identified.
- Review finances and legal paperwork to ensure someone has been designated as power of attorney so the person’s wishes will be followed and decisions made on their behalf when required.
- Find help – through a web-based or in-person support group for family care providers, and for the specific diagnosis if at all possible.
The crucial thing to bear in mind is you’re not alone! Hearts at Home In-Home Care, one of the top home health agencies in Kansas City, KS and surrounding areas, is always on hand to work alongside you, offering opportunities for you to step away from your caregiving responsibilities for your own needs and interests. Looking after yourself is vital to being able to properly take care of a loved one. Plan ongoing, regular time away for self-care such as:
- Working out – at least 20 minutes of physical exercise three times per week, or per doctor’s instructions.
- Healthy eating – avoid the drive-through and quick, sugary, or salty snacks and opt for nutritious alternatives
- Sleep – something that is increasingly difficult when looking after a person with cognitive loss, but vitally important
- Medical and dental checkups – including tending to your mental health to avoid caregiver burnout and depression
- Comforting, enjoyable activities – reading, a coffee date with a friend, and whatever hobbies and interests brighten your day
Get in touch with Hearts at Home In-Home Care at 913-440-4209 to learn more about our respite care services, provided by fully trained and experienced senior care professionals. Request a no-cost consultation and let us help you ensure the most effective care for a senior you love with cognitive decline – and, for yourself.