Families providing care for an adult with dementia causing illness, like Alzheimer's Disease, typically strive to postpone personal care or nursing home placement as long as possible. Many soon realize that this neurological disease causes noticeable changes in the way the ill person reacts to his environment and the family must make some changes in the home to compensate for the perceptual changes in the brain of the person with Alzheimer's.
For more information, visit a caregiver support group meeting the second Monday of each month at Statesboro First United Methodist Church in room 200 at 1:30 pm or call 1-800-272-3900.
A person with cognitive confusion due to chemical changes in the brain may accumulate papers, food, empty cartons and other items because they can't remember what is safe to discard. They may also throw away valuable things or give away jewelry to strangers. It is recommended that valuable jewelry and objects be stored or replaced with fake jewelry.
It is not unusual for a person to "plunder" at night and rearrange items in the home while the rest of the family is asleep. Offering a 'plunder room' where the person can safely move and rearrange items seems to help.
The kitchen can be a dangerous place if the person wanders around the house at night, turning on the stove to heat a pot of soup and then forgetting it, leaving the freezer door open, unloading the dishwasher before it has run, plugging in the iron and leaving it on the ironing board. Turning on the microwave or oven and then forgetting it and going to bed. There are devices available to protect the family from these events.
Some people with dementia will make 911 calls repeatedly or will try to operate small appliances, use tools to "repair" the TV or heat control. There are traditional looking phones that a person can talk on but cannot place a call from.
The disease causes some people to believe others are trying to hurt them or their family. They may believe they are protecting their family and pull out a knife or a gun. Disarm guns with trigger locks.
Driving is often a problem issue for people moving toward the middle stages of dementia. Consider the financial, legal, emotional cost of an accident and balance that with the person's wish to be independent.
Families typically find that with help, education, and with patience, they can make some adjustments in their home to keep the ill person home longer. There are many good books available to help including The 36 Hour Day and The Alzheimer's Action Plan. You may also call the Alzheimer's Association at 1-800-272-3900 and attend a support group in your area.
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