According to research published by the National Institutes of Health, 70% to 80% of people with dementia live in the community as opposed to an institution, such as a nursing home. Out of those who live in the community, 75% of them are cared for by family members and friends instead of professional caregivers.
If you're caring for someone with dementia, it can be challenging, especially when it comes to how their thought processes contribute to aggression, confusion, and wandering. Fortunately, there are technological advancements that can help. Here's what you need to know if your family is planning to take care of a family member with dementia.
Your loved one with dementia will likely become aggressive at some point, especially in the mid-to-late stages of the disease. The main cause, of course, is the deterioration of the brain cells, which leads to diminished cognitive function. In other words, they are no longer able to think clearly and express their thoughts clearly. This can lead them to get so aggravated with everything that they can become physically aggressive and violent.
For your protection, it's a good idea to always have wearable personal alarms on your person when you are providing care for your loved one. These devices are small and can be worn as bracelets or necklaces and will place a call to an alarm monitoring service on your behalf at the push of a button on the device.
It's also a good idea to install surveillance cameras throughout your home, especially in areas where your loved one will spend the majority of their time. That way, you can record behaviors and show the recordings to your loved one's medical team for advice on how to handle similar situations in the future.
Dementia and Alzheimer's patients can easily get confused, which can lead to dangerous situations when it comes to medication or complete darkness.
- Medication. If dementia patients don't recall when or if they took medication they may take it again, which can lead to an overdose. Even in the beginning stages of dementia when constant care is not yet necessary, confusion about medication can lead to serious health implications. Therefore, it is crucial that you place all prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and vitamins within the household in a lockable cabinet or box, regardless of whether it's for the person with dementia or not. Get one with a locking mechanism that is operated by a keypad instead of a key card or a traditional key. That way, you won't have to worry about not being able to get the medication out if the key gets lost.
- Darkness. Those with dementia can often forget or become confused by basic things they interact with every day. For example, your loved one may not remember where light switches are or may become confused as to how to operate lights. This can cause him or her to stumble around in the dark and possibly get injured if they get out of bed in the middle of the night. It's a good idea to install motion-detector lighting. However, since sudden bright lights can startle your loved one and send him or her into a state of panic, keep this lighting on a dim setting.
Wandering is something that all dementia and Alzheimer's patients experience, and it is often triggered by memories or thoughts. For example, your loved one may hear the beep of an alarm clock and be certain that means he or she needs to go to work, which will cause him or her to wander off. You can prevent wandering by installing a security system that can only allow doors and windows to be opened by a keypad or magnetic key card.
There's always a possibility that your loved one may wander when outside of the home, such as when on the way to a doctor's appointment or when you run errands with your loved one in tow. It's a good idea to get a wearable GPS device for your loved one to wear, just in case he or she gets away from you to wander around.
Contact a service like Tele-Plus to learn more about these security options to help you in your care taking of a loved one with dementia.