If you’re caring for an older parent, you’re familiar with the array of feelings involved. On one hand, it is a huge honor and extremely worthwhile. Conversely, it can be taxing, exhausting, and demanding. Add to that the particular issues related to cognitive decline in the elderly, and it is easy to see how family caregivers can quickly become bogged down.
Cognitive performance can decrease slowly, or seemingly overnight, depending on the root cause (Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, traumatic brain injury, or Parkinson’s, to name a few). Regardless of the reason behind someone’s cognitive decline, there are actions caregivers can take to offer the most effective level of care.
- Take note of the person’s baseline behaviors and also the specific changes you are seeing.
- Make arrangements for a comprehensive examination with the primary care doctor for an accurate diagnosis and to eliminate other medical conditions.
- Ask the physician for educational resources on the diagnosis in order to be fully informed on what to expect, and to share with other members of the family.
- Evaluate the senior’s needs – both today and ongoing, as needs might be anticipated to change as time passes. Consider physical as well as emotional concerns, such as their capacity to:
- Tend to personal cleanliness tasks
- Take care of meals, laundry, housekeeping, along with other chores around the home
- Maintain social ties and stay engaged in meaningful activities
- Make it to medical visits, take care of grocery shopping, along with other needs outside the home
- Remain safe: from falls, medication mismanagement, wandering, and more
- Establish a strategy to meet any needs identified.
- Review finances and legal files to ensure someone has been selected as power of attorney so the person’s wishes will be implemented and decisions made on their behalf when required.
- Find assistance – through a web-based or in-person group for family care providers, as well as for the specific diagnosis if at all possible.
The main thing to bear in mind is you are not alone! Compassionate Nursing Services, a provider of home care solutions in St. Louis and nearby areas, is always on hand to work together with you, creating opportunities for you to take a break from your caregiving duties for your own needs and interests. Taking care of yourself is crucial to being able to properly care for another person. Plan ongoing, regular time away for self-care such as:
- Physical activity – at least 20 minutes of exercise three times per week, or per doctor’s suggestions.
- Healthy eating – skip fast food and quick, sugary, or salty snacks and opt for nutritious alternatives
- Rest – something that is increasingly challenging when caring for someone with cognitive decline, but truly essential
- Health and dental examinations – including tending to your mental health to avoid caregiver burnout and depression
- Relaxing, enjoyable activities – reading, a lunch date with a good friend, and whatever hobbies and interests improve your day
Reach out to Compassionate Nursing Services’ experts in home care solutions in St. Louis and nearby areas at 314-432-4312 for more information on our respite care services, provided by fully trained and experienced senior care professionals. Request a no-cost consultation and let us help you ensure the most effective care for a senior you love with cognitive decline – and, for yourself.