Are you overwhelmed with fear and anxiety over an Alzheimer’s diagnosis? Unsure what your next step is?
Maybe one of your parents just received the news they have Alzheimer’s, or perhaps you’ve been battling the disease for a while. Either way, you feel lost trying to figure out how to help them have the best quality of life while still taking care of yourself.
It’s okay! At Aging Outreach Services, we have compiled a list of steps to take to make sure your loved one’s daily living is as comfortable as possible. Keep reading to learn more.
Are you in a hurry? Click here to read the quick recap and get help creating your Alzheimer’s Care Plan by requesting your free consultation before you go.
What is an Alzheimer’s Care Plan?
An Alzheimer’s Care Plan is a daily list of things an individual with dementia will complete with the help of his or her caregiver. It can be a written or visual description of their routines.
These care plans arrange daily routines and activities in a sort of formal checklist for caregivers to go through each day.
Having their day planned out with an Alzheimer’s Care Plan allows the patient more time to enjoy activities, and it helps with providing more meaning to their life. Setting goals daily ensures that you've met your loved one’s needs and will aid them in staying active and engaged.
Why Do You Need a Care Plan?
Skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities require their residents and staff to create a care plan. But it’s even more important when the resident has dementia.
Alzheimer’s Care Plans create routines and reminders for caregivers and the resident. A person with dementia will feel more comfortable and confident if they know what is expected of them, such as grooming, bathing, eating, and social activities.
When your loved one forms a daily living pattern from using their Alzheimer’s Care Plan, they become less distracted and less likely to forget what they are doing.
An Alzheimer’s Care Plan helps to improve a person with dementia’s mood. The structure also helps decrease behavioral symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s like agitation and anxiety.
Who Should Write the Care Plan
When designing an Alzheimer’s Care Plan, several people will help decide what goes into it. Caregivers and family members work together closely in the creation process.
The nurse practitioner or doctor for that facility might help form the plan if your loved one is living in a nursing facility. They will know more about medication schedules and safety concerns, while family members will know more about the resident’s daily activities and the things he or she enjoys.
Family members should start working on an Alzheimer's Care Plan in the early stages of the diagnosis to make it a smoother transition for the resident.
Early intervention and several opinions help with making the best Alzheimer’s Care Plan.
What Goes in an Alzheimer’s Care Plan
When you start writing your loved one's Alzheimer's Care Plan, you might want to consider the things he or she enjoyed doing before the disease. Did your loved one like playing Bingo or listening to records?
These things should get scheduled in their care plan, just like grooming and eating get scheduled.
You’ll also need to make a note of their highest and lowest function parts of the day. Planning when your loved one will best be able to complete tasks aids in improving their mood and confidence.
Medications and therapies need to be included. And the resident will need time for socializing, chores, and personal care.
Consider the things your loved one did every day, what you do every day, and the things that must be done daily to create an effective Alzheimer’s Care Plan.
What is Sundowning? And Why is it important?
Although the exact correlation between Alzheimer’s and evening isn’t known, there is a connection between the two, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
Sundowning, or sundown syndrome, causes people with dementia to be more confused, anxious, irritable, and it creates sleeping problems and more memory loss. Sundowning usually occurs later in the day, after the sun sets.
It’s important to keep sundowning in mind as you draft your Alzheimer’s Care Plan. Planning things later in the evening might increase your loved one’s anxiety if they cannot complete the task due to sundowning effects.
Different Types of Alzheimer’s Disease
Considering your loved one’s type of Alzheimer’s will also be important in formulating their Alzheimer’s Care Plan.
Early-onset Alzheimer’s happens to people before they turn 65 years old. It’s rarer than the other types, and people with down syndrome are at a higher risk.
Late-onset Alzheimer’s happens once a person is over 65 years old. It is the most common type of Alzheimer’s disease.
Familial Alzheimer’s disease is caused by genetics. If two generations in one family are affected by dementia, it is classified as familial Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease, no matter the type, has the same symptoms and characteristics. What sets the different types apart are when and how the symptoms present.
If you know the type of Alzheimer’s disease that your loved one has, it will help you write their Alzheimer’s Care Plan. Patients with early-onset might progress quicker than those with later-onset, and preparation is crucial in maintaining their quality of life.
Other Things to Consider
Something else you may want to consider is leaving time in your loved one’s schedule for unplanned changes. Things come up, like social calls, sickness or injuries, and you need to know that you have allotted enough flexibility in the schedule to handle them and get back on track.
Your loved one might also have days that they need more sleep than others. They will need extra time to rest these days, and it is hard to predict when they will occur.
As the disease progresses, you might run into problems that need addressing by adopting different activities. Keeping a flexible Alzheimer’s Care Plan will help transition to new activities with ease.
Alzheimer’s is hard to predict. While a structured routine is important, it’s also necessary to have room for the unpredictable things that might happen.
Check The Care Plan Often
After you develop your Alzheimer’s Care Plan, you need to revisit it often. Regularly checking your plan allows you to adjust and remove activities that no longer work with your loved one.
You want to make a note of which activities overwhelmed them. Some activities become more difficult as the disease progresses.
How to best evaluate your Alzheimer’s Care Plan is by asking yourself the following questions.
- Did my loved one seem irritable or restless during this activity or at this time of day?
- What activities went well?
- How did my loved one handle random activities?
- Were there times that your loved one was bored and might need more to do?
As the condition progresses, so will your care plan. You need to be mindful of this to help create the best quality of life.
How to Build an Alzheimer’s Care Plan
Now that you know a little more about designing an Alzheimer’s Care Plan let’s go over the steps.
#1. Meet with your loved one’s medical team
Find an Aging Life Care Manager to help you identify your loved one's type of Alzheimer’s. They will also help you to know what therapies to schedule in your Alzheimer’s Care Plan.
Your Aging Life Care Manager can act as a middle man with your loved one’s doctors or nurse practitioners to ensure medications are scheduled at the right time.
#2. Identify their likes and dislikes
Make a list of all the things your loved one enjoyed doing before the disease and share it with your Aging Life Care Manager.
This list will help make sure that your loved one can do the things he or she likes, giving them a better quality of life. It also ensures that they aren’t doing things they don’t like, which might make them more irritable.
#3. Create a Checklist of their Daily Activities and Personal Care Routines
After you complete the first two steps, you have what you need to draft an Alzheimer’s Care Plan.
You want to make a checklist of sorts with all the things your loved one needs to do each day and the time in which they will be doing it.
Make sure to add personal care routines, like grooming, bathing, and shaving. And schedule times to eat.
#4. Make Sure You Leave Time for Rest
Go over your list and check to make sure your loved one has time for unpredictable events, such as a visit or a social phone call.
This extra time will also be good in case your loved one needs rest. It’s hard to know how they will feel each day, so it’s important to give them wiggle room for naps or changes in activity.
#5. Revisit and Make Changes as Needed
Now that you have finished your Alzheimer’s Care Plan, you still need to revisit it often.
Alzheimer's disease progresses at different rates for everyone, and as the disease progresses, activities will need to be changed.
Your Aging Life Care Manager can help you rewrite your care plan as needed.
- It’s important to bring structure and organization to the lives of Alzheimer’s patients. It’s the best way to improve their quality of living.
- It’s not an easy task to undertake; you will require the help of an Aging Life Care Manager and your loved one’s medical team.
- It will also be an evolving task you must check up on regularly. But it is worth it to help your loved one feel more comfortable and at ease.
Don’t Let Alzheimer’s Overwhelm you. Let Us Help!
At Aging Outreach Services, we know it's a scary time when your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It’s just as scary for you as it is for them, but you are the one with a new important role in their care.
It’s daunting and overwhelming, not knowing where to start.
Our Aging Life Care Managers at Aging Outreach Services want to help your family through this process. We are experienced with aiding families through this journey.Request your Free Consultation with one of our Aging Life Care Managers today.
“Without any family support, I soon realized I wouldn’t be able to provide the best care possible for my mother on my own without retiring from my job, which wasn’t even a remote possibility. Exhausted and distraught, I contacted Aging Outreach Services seeking any assistance I could find. What I was given the day I made that phone call was a heavenly gift in earthly form.” - Jamie Woodruff
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