Dementia Caregiver Support is Available
More than 50 million individuals worldwide are currently affected with dementia requiring varying levels of care. The process of caring for an individual with dementia can be an exhausting endeavor. The inability for your loved one to complete basic self care, wandering, negative behaviors, poor nutrition, and falls can create a tremendous burden for caregivers in the home. Caregivers frequently find themselves struggling to balance caregiver responsibilities while also maintaining a home, family and career.
While caregiver burnout is different for everyone, individuals commonly experience denial, anger, worry, grief, exhaustion, failing health, guilt and chronic stress. Many times family members say, “They made me promise I would always care for them and never put them in a nursing home.” While these promises are made out of love, it may be a promise that can’t always be kept. It is important to remember that if your loved one trusted you enough to ask you to make these promises, then they trust you to make the right decision regarding their care. Caregivers have options for obtaining assistance and reducing caregiver burnout.
In-home Dementia Care
The goal for many families is to keep their loved one home for as long as possible. Many states and companies are looking at how to better serve people with dementia while assisting them in maintaining their independence as long as possible. We are seeing increased senior transportation systems, specialized outpatient services, grocery and pharmacy delivery, and in-home recreation and rehab services. As caregivers struggle to keep their loved one home, developing ways to keep loved ones and caregivers safe is of utmost importance.
Valley Vista Care Center offers a Certified Dementia Care Practitioner to consult on environmental modifications, routine establishment, strategies to improve communication, and activities to maximize independence. This is an outpatient therapy service where individuals participate in both standardized assessment and observation. It is critical to have a very detailed initial assessment to ensure that recommendations are tailored to each person’s abilities, preferences, past pursuits, culture, religion, work history, function and cognition. Frequently, caregivers are encouraged to get involved in a support group. While it may feel like just another task added to your list, there is no substitute for the personal experiences that are shared by families going through the same struggles.
Fully Secured Dementia Care Units
When is the right time to move a person with dementia? Frequently this question is directly correlated with “How is the caregiver?” and “Are your loved one’s needs being safely met in the home?” Caregivers frequently hide their struggles due to guilt and fear of failing on their promise to never put their loved one in a nursing home. However, as a caregiver you must give up the guilt, recognize your own limitations and be honest with what you believe is the best decision for your loved ones care.
Expect it to be difficult. Transitions are always hard and it may take time to adjust. When considering long term care facilities, it is important to ensure they are memory care specific. Make sure you tour the facility, ask questions regarding their dementia specific programs and express any concerns you may have.
Secured Dementia care facilities can be difficult to find and available openings limited. One local facility here in Sandpoint is Valley Vista Care Center. Valley Vista offers gender specific secured, specialized, units for any level of behavior and memory care. Their goal is to provide residents with dementia and other memory impairments an environment that maintains the highest quality of life and personal independence. They offer Telehealth psychiatric coverage by Dr. Abhilash Desai, a much-respected member of the psychiatric medical community. The facility has a full time behavior nurse and specially trained staff skilled in memory deficits. Valley Vista’s goal is to provide a comfortable, quiet, and secure environment while respecting the uniqueness and dignity of each resident.
What is the Next Step?
As a caregiver, remember your mental and physical health matters. Your loved one is counting on you to be at your best. There are community resources available to support you in your role as a caregiver both in the home and when it is time to transition your loved one. Ask for help. Write down ten ways others can offer you assistance. People want to help, they just don’t know how. Join a support group.
Knowing you are not alone on this journey is priceless. Be prepared and start looking into long term care options. As your loved one advances in their dementia, you may or may not be able to continue meeting their needs. Know your options so that when the time comes, you can make a smooth transition without the stress of uncertainty. If you are interested in more information on available services please contact Sheila Balison or Sarah Miller at (208) 265-4514.
by Sarah Miller, Speech Language Pathologist – Valley Vista Care
Sarah Miller graduated from Eastern Washington University with her Masters of Science. She has advanced her clinical skills as Speech Language Pathologist working in both acute rehabilitation and long term care settings. Sarah is a Certified Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia Care Trainer (CADDCT) & Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP) through the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners. She currently works as part of the therapy and behavioral care team at Valley Vista Care in Sandpoint, Idaho. Sarah will be holding future trainings for medical professionals and community members on Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Care.