Once every 67 seconds. Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s Disease, and among the adults over age 65 in the U.S. about one in nine have the condition. That is about five million older adults, one in ten of whom will die from this disease each year. There are about three caregivers for every one of the older adults with Alzheimer’s Disease, and they provide about 17.7 billion uncompensated hours of care each year. But there is help for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
As a professional geriatric care manager, I am certified and a member in good standing of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers. Earlier this month they did what they are calling an “InstaPoll” of those of us who are members. The results from the poll of we care managers, it turns out, offers some very practical advice from those of us who work with clients with this condition every day. The feedback from the nearly 300 NAPGCM members who responded to the poll distill down into six recommendations for caregivers:
- The most common recommendation revolves around the fact that dementia develops in stages, and that is important that a caregiver be attuned to the capabilities that a person with AD will retain versus lose so that communication is appropriate.
- Test for a response to such communications as reminiscing. If the care receiver responds positively to talking about the past and long term memories, it can be very positive and affirming to break out the scrap books and memory boxes.
- To guard against social isolation, try to keep up the old routines and engagements as your care receiver enjoyed before. With less social engagement comes the risk for depression and even further isolation.
- For those of you who may have raised children, the game of “Mommy and daddy always come back” was important at a young age. It will be that way also with some AD patients for whom an absent caregiver is just gone. Reassurance is key.
- Don’t rush with change, especially the disruption of moving to a new residence. While it is important that an AD patient be secure from wandering, it also is important they be given time to adjust to the concept and an upheaval of house and home.
- Where there is loss, especially that of a spouse, it is important that a care giver monitor the AD patient for signs that the stress is overwhelming. Their capacity for processing grief will be compromised by the Alzheimer’s.
If you would like more information on NAPGCM’s InstaPoll or on professional care manager advice as well as a care manager locator, just go to our association’s web site: http://www.caremanager.org .
Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to info@cr eativecaremanagement.com.