Home Care for Alzheimer's & Dementia | Santa Rosa & Throughout Sonoma County
Dementia is a disease that is characterized by loss of brain abilities, causing decreased cognitive function.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, and affects the memory, thinking and behavior of an estimated 5.4 million Americans, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease typically start to set in when the patient is over the age of 60.
When symptoms such as forgetfulness or thinking problems develop before age 60, it is classified as early onset Alzheimer's disease. Interim HealthCare has extensive experience in helping individuals and their families live with Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia.
Our customized Alzheimer's Care & Dementia programs throughout Sonoma County can:
- Provide medication reminders, assistance or administration
- Help with the daily activities of living such as bathing and dressing
- Provide relief to the individual’s caregivers by assisting with routine home management issues such as housekeeping or laundry.
- Create and maintain a safe and calm environment.
One of the tragic realities of life for many families throughout America and in Sonoma Country is the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in a loved one.
While there remains still no cure nor any scientifically verified method of reversing or slowing the ravages of Alzheimer’s, though there are promising research results.
Substantial gains have been made in identifying signs of the possible onset of Alzheimer’s, however.
And there is hope for preventing or forestalling the disease, as well.
Reducing the Risk of Alzheimer’s & Other Dementias
According to an article at one mental health website,
"Promising research shows that there are steps you can take to both reduce your risk of developing symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, or slow the process of deterioration if you’ve already been diagnosed.
By identifying and controlling your personal risk factors and making simple but effective lifestyle changes, you can maximize your chances of lifelong brain health and preserve your cognitive abilities for longer.
Alzheimer’s is a complex disease with multiple risk factors. Some, like your age and genetics, are outside your control. However, there are seven pillars for a brain-healthy lifestyle that are within your control:
- Regular exercise
- Social engagement
- Healthy diet
- Mental stimulation
- Quality sleep
- Stress management
- Vascular health"
However, for the vast majority of those stricken with Alzheimer’s and subsequent dementia, help is needed to be able to continue living safely in their own homes.
Living with Alzheimer’s Disease in Sonoma County
The local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, a non-profit advocacy organization supporting those with Alzheimer’s disease and those who care for them, has noted on their website,
Currently, more than 650,000 people in California are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and over 1.6 million family and friends are providing care.
In addition, the Press Democrat reported a few years ago that,
In Sonoma County, more than one in 10 Sonoma residents over the age of 65 - or about 9,000 people - have Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia, and their numbers are expected to grow rapidly over the next three decades as the baby-boom generation ages…
And this number has likely increased as the number of Sonoma County residents that have reached the age of 65 and older has increased, as well.
While the numbers of Alzheimer’s are tragically immense, the fact is that more than 80 percent of seniors do not have Alzheimer’s dementia. As a result, many are not fully aware of or familiar with the signs or characteristics that are associated with it.
10 Common Warning Signs & Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
According to the Alzheimer's Association, memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer's or some other cause of dementia. But there are actually ten common warning signs and symptoms.
1. Memory Loss That Disrupts Daily Life
One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information.
Others include forgetting important dates or events, asking the same question repeatedly, or increasingly needing to rely on reminder notes, electronic devices, or family members for things the person used to handle on their own.
2. Challenges in Planning or Problem Solving
Some people living with dementia may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers.
They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.
3. Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks
People living with Alzheimer’s disease often find it hard to complete routine tasks.
Sometimes they may have trouble driving to a familiar location, organizing a grocery list, or remembering the rules of a favorite game.
4. Confusion with Time or Place
People living with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately.
Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.
5. Problems with Visual Images and Spatial Relationships
For some people, vision problems are a sign of Alzheimer’s.
They may also have problems judging distance and determining color or contrast, causing issues with driving.
6. Problems with Words When Speaking or Writing
People living with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or repeat themselves.
They may struggle with vocabulary, have trouble naming a familiar object, or use the wrong name.
7. Misplacing Objects and Unable to Retrace Steps
A person living with Alzheimer’s may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again.
He or she may accuse others of stealing, especially as the disease progresses.
8. Decreased or Poor Judgement
Individuals may experience changes in judgment or decision-making.
For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money or pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
9. Withdrawal from Work or Social Activities
A person living with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in the ability to hold or follow a conversation.
As a result, he or she may withdraw from hobbies, social activities, or other engagements. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite team or activity.
10. Mood and Personality Changes
Individuals living with Alzheimer’s may experience mood and personality changes. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends, or when out of their comfort zone.
Those who have not had the experience of living with or caring for those with Alzheimer’s may wonder how their loved ones might respond if stricken with the disease.
3 Responses to Dementia Friends & Family Will Encounter
Experts have noted that there are three typical responses to dementia that family and friends will encounter:
- Fifty percent, or half, of people suffering from dementia, do not realize they have a problem and will often argue when told that they do. They are unaware that anything is wrong or that their abilities to manage themselves are changing. They often will not listen, or become angry, if a loved one or caregiver tries to help them understand they are doing things wrong.
- Thirty percent of patients are aware that things are changing and are scared. They realize they are losing skills and they are looking for people to help them. They often seem to be manipulative but are really responding from fear. Caregiving for this type of patient can be trying and many need multiple caregivers. They can ask the same questions repeatedly and are fearful of being abandoned and ask about it often.
- And twenty percent are aware of their changes and decreased abilities but try to hide this from everyone. It can be embarrassing for them, and patients often fear the perceived humiliation of being found out. They will keep all their mail, typically in stacks, so that they won’t “miss” anything. They will stack their clothing so that they won’t lose items. They try to keep things out where they can see them. They typically want to review things later. They will put things off and avoid addressing anything in detail with others.
Caring for Those with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Providing care for those with Alzheimer’s usually takes the form of either formal care or informal care.
Formal care typically involves the services of a professionally trained caregiver such as the staff from Interim HealthCare of Santa Rosa. Informal care, on the other hand, is a kind of care usually provided by family and friends.
Often, these “informal” caregivers are husbands and wives, adult children or grandchildren, and even other relatives.
For those with mild to medium cases of dementia, having a caregiver that is a family member is often preferable, if possible. However, when their symptoms increase, more professional and other supportive care is often required.
As long as it is feasible, this care should take place at home as opposed to a long-term care facility.
The reality is that caring for those suffering from Alzheimer’s is often difficult and challenging for family members. The behaviors of those with dementia can be misunderstood by family caregivers and lead to frustration.
For most of these family members, the tendency is to react negatively rather than respond positively.
Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach to Care (PAC)
It is this latter approach that is at the core of the Positive Approach to Care, or PAC.
PAC is a responsive versus reactive methodology developed by trainer, occupational therapist, and educator, Teepa Snow.
Positive Approach to Care is an established, reputable, trusted, and proven method of dementia care training.
The originator of PAC, Teepa Snow, is a leading educator on dementia and care for dementia patients.
The goal of her dementia care philosophy is to put the person with dementia at the center of all care decisions, activities, and therapies.
PAC advocates a person-centered approach that comes from having a mindset of empathy, assistance, and openness.
By giving priority to the wellness, health, and happiness of the person with dementia, caregivers can avoid focusing on what that individual can no longer do because of their dementia.
Teepa Snow has said that,
Rewiring our own perceptions, attitudes, communication strategies, actions, and responses, provides the shift that promotes change for the others around us.
Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach to Care philosophy encourages those who are caregivers for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia to:
Living with Alzheimer’s can be challenging, frustrating, and often distressing. Caring for those with Alzheimer’s requires awareness, compassion, empathy, and flexibility.
- Respond to a person’s change in cognition and abilities in a way that is not hurtful or offensive.
- Understand that, with practice, common reactions to the person living with dementia can become thoughtful responses that improve quality of life for everyone involved.
- Recognize that the person living with dementia is doing the best they can and that if something isn’t working, it’s the responsibility of the care partner to change their approach and behaviors toward the person with dementia.
- Notice the physical and sensory environment that surrounds the person they are caring for, such as - lighting, sound, and activity, and make changes, as necessary.
The PAC website underscores this dynamic,
Given that dementia is constantly progressing and changing, every new moment brings a possibility of surprise and a need for flexibility.
The ultimate goal of any approach is to move from a public space, to a personal connection, into a relationship that has value and purpose. Our willingness and ability to be flexible and responsive is the key to optimizing the possibilities.
And, as Teepa Snow once wrote,
"It can be difficult, frustrating and confusing to care for a person with dementia. In order to be successful in changing behavior when frustration mounts, it comes down to how we respond to what is happening and what we choose to do."
Interim Healthcare of Santa Rosa is an authorized provider of the Positive Approach to Care (PAC) methodology, and we are proud to be certified practitioners of Teepa Snow's widely recognized and acclaimed program.
We make it a priority to train our Alzheimer’s patient in-home caregiver staff in PAC.
Interim HealthCare Can Provide Home Care for Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s
Finding the right in-home care provider for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia in Sonoma County is an important decision. And it can be challenging to determine what is right for both you and your aging loved one.
When you choose to work with Interim HealthCare, however, you can be assured that we know how to care for your senior parent or grandparent with dementia so they can remain safe in their own home.
Our customized Alzheimer's Care and Dementia programs are available throughout Sonoma County and can provide:
- Medication reminders, assistance, or administration
- Help with the daily activities of living such as bathing and dressing
- Relief for family-member caregivers with routine home management issues such as housekeeping or laundry
In addition, our expertly trained home care providers can create and maintain a safe and calm environment for your loved one.
To schedule your No-Obligation in-home evaluation, or to learn more about home care services, or to learn more about home care for Alzheimer's and Dementia patients in Sonoma County, call our Santa Rosa office at (707) 545-4986.
At Interim HealthCare, we know what to look for when it comes to whether a loved one can remain safe and independent in their own home. This simple and free quiz can help guide you when making that important decision.
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