A caregiver was taking care of a respected man of her community – a former city Fire Chief – and it was under the guise of a housekeeper. He had Alzheimer's disease. His wife had a standing appointment with her hairdresser at 9:00 AM each Friday, but she did not feel comfortable leaving her husband alone.
She told the caregiver, “He’s never walked off, but there’s always that chance with this disease.”
One Friday when the caregiver was doing light housekeeping while watching over the man, he wanted to take a walk around the cul-de-sac. The caregiver continued her cleaning ruse until he started walking down the driveway, but she paid close attention to the man’s movements and directions. He did walk toward the cul-de-sac, but she remained concerned about his return. She was right to be concerned.
The man was returning home while the caregiver hunched behind the garage door waiting for him. As she watched for his steps to come into view, she noticed the man’s steps had stopped. She ran out to the street and found him sitting on the asphalt. Within minutes, the man was vomiting, and he was too big to move anywhere.
Fortunately, a neighbor noticed his demented friend sitting in the street and the caregiver attempting to lend aid, and he came out to help. The caregiver ran to get her phone and call his wife (a retired EMT), and the caregiver and neighbor managed to coerce the Chief to crawl to a nearby brick mailbox to stabilize himself enough to stand. His wife arrived on scene in record time, and she assessed her husband’s condition. She called 911 and gave her professional assessment to the dispatcher who summoned an ambulance. It was determined by his doctor that he had suffered a stroke.
It's horrible enough to have a debilitating disease like Alzheimer's, but to endure another life-threatening medical condition like a stroke just made matters worse. Sadly, the Chief died about six weeks later having suffered a second stroke.
It is critical to know what to do in emergency situations, and the Chief’s wife was grateful that the caregiver did exactly as she was instructed to do. The caregiver still helps the woman with light housekeeping, because since her husband’s death, she has endured multiple surgeries and is no longer capable of performing some homemaking tasks.
I am proud of my team of caregivers at Home Helpers Clearwater, because many of them have received specialized training and are highly experienced in dementia care. In fact, many are certified in Alzheimer’s care through our partnership with the National Certification Board for Alzheimer Care (NCBAC), so they know what to do and how to respond in numerous scenarios.
Additionally, thanks to their specialized training, the dementia caregivers I employ also understand six important terms every Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiver should know, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
- Person-centered care. This requires understanding the world from the perspective of the individual living with dementia. It encourages caregivers to take into account a person’s interests, abilities, history and personality to inform interactions and care decisions.
- Dementia-related behaviors. This term is used to describe wide-ranging behavioral symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Along with memory loss, other dementia-related behaviors may surface. These include aggression and anger; anxiety and agitation; depression; sleep disturbances and sundowning; wandering; and suspicions and delusions. Each case is unique to the individual and may be related to other underlying health condition, some medications, and even the environment.
- Caregiver burnout. Caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia can be exhausting — mentally, physically, and emotionally. Sustained caregiver stress can lead to caregiver burnout — a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion.
- Respite Care. Respite care provides caregivers a temporary rest from caregiving, while the person living with Alzheimer's continues to receive care in a safe environment. It can be provided at home — by a friend, other family member, volunteer, or paid service provider — or in a care setting, such as adult day care or long-term care community.
- Care Consultations. A care consultation can help family members work through tough decisions, anticipate future challenges, and develop an effective care plan. The Alzheimer’s Association offers free care consultations through its 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900). During these consultations, master-level clinicians work with families to discuss wide-ranging, disease-related issues, including disease progression, care and living options and referrals to local support services.
- Treatment pipeline. Currently, there are more than 100 disease-modifying Alzheimer’s treatments in clinical trials — researchers often refer to this as the treatment pipeline. Earlier this fall, positive topline results from phase 3 clinical trials for the treatment of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease were announced. These are the most encouraging results in clinical trials treating the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s to date. While these new treatments will not provide a cure to Alzheimer’s and other dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association is hopeful these new treatments will address the underlying biology of the disease in new ways to help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
During National Alzheimer’s Disease Month and over the upcoming holidays, please include your loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia or if that is not possible, consider hiring a Home Helpers® dementia caregiver who is certified and trained to manage specialized care.
It would be my pleasure to meet you and your loved one with Alzheimer’s during a FREE Consultation to determine what specialized services will be required, so I can match the perfect dementia caregiver to help.
We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have received the Home Care Pulse – Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award 2016-2022 and the Best of Home Care® Employer of Choice Award 2022. We proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson, and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠ 727.942.2539