A dementia caregiver improves quality of life for those with cognitive impairment

Having a quality dementia caregiver is critical need as Alzheimer’s/dementia is the third leading cause of death in California with 16,859 deaths per year, Alzheimer’s/dementia is a cause in 37% of deaths in the state, following only heart disease and cancer. 

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. 

dementia caregiver helps senior woman with hair styling
Home Caregiver with senior woman in bathroom, senior woman sitting in a wheelchair

Caring for a loved one with dementia can put a strain on the spouse, children or loved ones, which is why hiring a professional dementia caregiver is a crucial competent of Home Care. 

At Home Nursing Care trains each dementia caregiver with specialty behavioral skills based on the acclaimed guides of Teepa Snow.  Each dementia caregiver receives more than 4 hours of training on how to recognize the underlying factors behind dementia behaviors, such as someone feeling hungry, scared, or tired without the ability to vocalize those concerns. 

The agency is also very involved in raising funds for those experiencing dementia. 

At Home Nursing Care staff cooking for the Longest Day BBQ.
At Home Nursing Care Staff at Fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Association

A dementia caregiver understands how to validate and then re-direct the concerns of a client with cognitive impairment and to never argue with them, but meet them in the place where they are mentally, not necessarily physically. 

For example, if a dementia client asks about a spouse who died years ago, a dementia caregiver will not keep reminding the client about the death of the spouse, but will give encouraging and safe feedback such as, “you’ll see her soon,” or “She’s resting comfortably.”  

Very often home care companies are contacted by the spouse of someone who needs dementia care because that spouse is experiencing injury or illness that makes caring for the dementia client more taxing. 

Assistance with meal preparation and companionship while the cognitively healthy spouse visits friends or seeks his or her own medical care can alleviate the stress of dementia care. 

A concerned spouse with growing physical issues may also feel desperate to set up quality homecare or other elder care options for the spouse with dementia before it’s too late. 

The most common task involved in dementia care is constant safety monitoring.  This may involve simple companionship, or assistance while cooking, bathing, or running errands to make sure the client with dementia is kept safe. 

Constant safety monitoring is an appropriate trigger for long term care insurance coverage for dementia care, even if the client can still manage all other basic activities of daily living without hands on assistance. 

Caregivers who work to provide dementia care are taught the technique of validate and re-direct, meaning they validate the dementia client’s feelings of fear or confusion or immediate needs, but then they redirect the client into a different activity to break a repetitive chain.   Caregivers are also taught to create a calm atmosphere and to meet the dementia client where they are, not to try and reinforce current events which are no longer relevant or appropriate given the judgement or memory issues of the client.

Quality dementia care may involve changing the environment to provide a more soothing and reassuring atmosphere, removing hazards as part of fall prevention, engaging with medication management to monitor doses and reactions to medications, and creating easy to eat nutritious meals to encourage physical strength and comfort. 

Dementia care may be provided daily, hourly, or with 24 hour homecare if needed by a trained, supervised and experienced caregiver.  The care should be patient centered, meaning the client’s strengths, needs and values are taking into account when creating a plan of care increase quality of life at home. 

Here are more resources for information about Alzheimer’s Dementia: 

Alzheimer’s Association – San Diego 

Alzheimer’s Association – Los Angeles 

Alzheimer’s San Diego 

UC San Diego Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center 

UCLA Health Alzheimer’s and Dementia Home Care Program