9.03.1 6 Mary Yarmin-Garone
Good afternoon. Welcome to Demystifying Alzheimer’s. I’m your hostess Mary Yamin-Garone.
Today’s topic is “What Is an Alzheimer’s Care Plan?”
Consider this: 4% of individuals under age 65; 6% of those age 65-74; 44% age 75-84; and 46% of those 85 and older suffer from Alzheimer’s.
If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, your life—and theirs—will change dramatically as the disease progresses. One way to deal with the changes is to develop a care plan to help with day-to-day responsibilities like administering medications and going to doctor’s appointments.
What is a care plan?
A care plan for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s guarantees the highest quality of life for them in spite of their diagnosis. Since the disease progresses slowly, it is more difficult to assess your loved one’s needs and preferences as time goes on.
Alzheimer’s care plans are agreements you make with your loved one, your family, caregivers and the health care professionals who are responsible for your family member’s care. If possible, you should encourage your loved one to take part in developing the plan. Doing so gives them a chance to let you know how they’d like their plan to be executed. The best time to do that is in the early stages of the disease when they still can make decisions.
The importance of having a care team
The help that other people can provide will reduce your stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. Establishing your own support network also allows you to lead a more productive, active and engaged life.
Enlisting individuals to help with certain tasks works better if you have a well-thought-out, written plan instead of trying to find help in an emergency. An Alzheimer’s care plan will reassure you—and those helping you —that the help you need will be there when you need it.
Who should be on your team? Start by selecting someone you trust to be the decision-maker. Your care team also should include:
- Family members, whether living nearby or out-of-state
- Neighbors or others who may help with your day-to-day tasks
- Your loved one’s general practitioner, neurologist, counselor and/or specialist
- A volunteer from a community organization, members of your church or social group
Tips for developing your team
- Determine the kind of help you may need.
- Identify those who may be willing to help.
- Have a conversation with everyone who may be willing and able to assist you so they know what will be expected of them.
- Be specific. Clearly state what help you need or may need as your loved one’s disease progresses.
- Reach out to those who are willing to listen and who care.
- Don’t blame yourself or be angry if someone can’t help.
- Say thank you! Everyone likes to feel appreciated.
Writing the plan
Planning activities for someone with Alzheimer’s works best when the caregiver constantly explores, experiments and adjusts the plan. When making a care plan for your loved one you should consider:
- Their likes, dislikes, abilities and interests
- What times during the day they are at their best
- Time for preparing meals, bathing and dressing
- Scheduled times for waking up and going to bed
When organizing the day for your loved one ask yourself:
- What activities work best for them, which don’t and why
- Are there times when there is too much going on or not enough to do?
What should a care plan address?
Some of the things that should be included in an Alzheimer’s care plan are:
- Personal goals for your loved one, such as getting out of the house more or starting an activity
- The support and type of care that’s needed. Who’s in charge of providing and making decisions about these services.
- What have the support services/organizations agreed to do by way of providing care and when they’ll do it?
- Emergency telephone and contact numbers. Who should be contacted first?
- Medication and prescriptions your loved one needs. What intervals and times should the drugs be administered?
- Eating and allergies. This is especially important if your loved one struggles with communicating.
- Exercise plan. Can they engage in exercise? When was the last time they exercised?
Update your plan regularly
The initial impact of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is low but over time the deterioration increases. So does the amount of help you’ll need to properly care for your loved one. As a caregiver, you must be able to adjust your caregiving accordingly. More help will be needed and the activities your loved one needs help with will change and increase.
That’s all for today. Thanks for listening. I hope this information was helpful.
Join me next time for more Demystifying Alzheimer’s.