Keeping on track of everyday life can be difficult for anyone at times, but even the most basic tasks are the greatest challenge for seniors lost in the haze of dementia. Kenny Higdon, Owner of 5 Star Home Care, revealed his tips on how to help seniors with early onset Alzheimer’s.
Clocks and Alarms: For seniors with early onset Alzheimer’s or dementia, setting an alarm or reminder on a clock or smartphone can help keep the memory ticking. “A large-faced, easy-to-read digital clock with the date and time is ideal to better follow the time of day,” Higdon said.
Calendars: “It may be routine for the person with dementia to cross off each day as a matter of routine first thing in the morning or before going to bed,” said Higdon. “A pen or marker can be attached to a string to avoid getting lost. The calendar needs to be large enough to mark key events such as trash pickup day, family birthdays, doctor appointments, or visitations to expect.”
Automatic Bill Payments: Recurring payments for bills and home delivery services is a great way to never forget to pay the utilities. Family members can help senior loved ones schedule an automatic payment, that draws funds from a checking account each month. “It eliminates the need to remember at least some obligations and potentially avoid past due penalties,” Higdon said.
Pillbox: If you are concerned your loved ones aren’t remembering which medications to take, consider organizing pills into a pillbox. Remembering the quantity, day, and time of day has never been easier. “Some extra organizing may be necessary, if some medications should be swallowed with specific instructions, such as with food or before bed. At 5 Star Home Care, medication reminders are part of the service we provide,” Higdon said.
Note Cards: Notes can be especially useful with simple instructions. The provided visual or verbal cue can easily confuse dementia patients if directions are too specific. With early onset Alzheimer’s or dementia, sometimes all it takes is a little nudge to keep a routine in check.
Keys and Locks: “Consider rekeying locks so that a single key opens them all because it can be difficult fumbling with a keychain,” Higdon said. “Family should have copies of that house key and give a spare to a trustworthy neighbor who can help if the senior gets locked out and cannot find their key.”
Corded Phone: “We take for granted how common portable phone are these days, but they can be easy to lose track of and lose their charge if they forget to connect them to a charger,” Higdon said. “That doesn’t happen with an old-fashioned phone connected with a cord.”
Organization Labels: “If someone is in the early stages of dementia, they might find it helpful to have the most frequently used drawers and cabinets labeled with something simple to remember what is where in their kitchen or bedroom,” he said.
Clean Sweeps of the Home: “Our in-home care professionals or family caregivers can help those with dementia or Alzheimer’s by cleaning the home and tossing old papers that aren’t needed anymore. Clutter makes it more difficult to remember where things were left or are stored. You don’t want, however, to drastically rearrange things because it will further confuse the person with dementia,” Higdon said.
Journals: “A simple diary or notepad can be helpful to write down details of conversations or lists of things to remember,” Higdon said. “Writing it down helps stick in the memory.”
Photo Album: “Taking snapshots of people the person with Alzheimer’s or dementia encounters regularly can help them to clear their confusion by referencing labeled pictures that identify them as their home health aide, doctor, etc.,” Higdon said. “A bulletin board can be used if they are at risk of misplacing the photo album. Hang the cork board and post reminders, frequently used phone numbers and other important information.”
Repetition: “It’s important to be patient and compassionate with someone who has difficulty remembering things,” Higdon said. Repetitive suggestions can be more effective than explaining things over and over logically.
5 Star In Home Care of Chattanooga provides routine assistance to those living with a disability or recovering from an injury, illness or age-related need. “Our company provides high quality, personal assistance so people can maintain the independence that comes from living at home,” Higdon said.
Are you are struggling with how to best care for a relative with early onset Alzheimer’s or dementia in Tennessee? Call 423-893-8181 or visit 5 Star Home Care today.