senior man and caregiver looking at book

If you are caring for a senior loved one, you’re fully aware of the range of emotions involved. On one hand, it’s a great honor and incredibly worthwhile. Having said that, it can also be challenging, draining, and demanding. Add to that the additional concerns inherent with cognitive impairment, and it’s easy to understand how family care providers can quickly become stressed and overwhelmed.

Cognitive function can decline gradually, or it can happen 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 cause of someone’s cognitive impairment, there are steps caregivers can take to deliver the very best standard of care.

  1. Note the person’s baseline behaviors and also the specific changes you are seeing.
  2. Schedule a detailed exam with the primary care physician for an accurate diagnosis and to rule out other medical ailments.
  3. Ask the doctor for educational tools regarding the diagnosis in order to be fully informed about what to expect, and to share with other loved ones.
  4. Evaluate the senior’s needs – both today and ongoing, as needs may evolve with time. Consider physical as well as emotional concerns, including their capacity to:
    • Tend to personal cleanliness tasks
    • Take care of meals, laundry, housekeeping, and other tasks around the residence
    • Keep up with social ties and remain engaged in enjoyable 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
  5. Create a strategy to address any needs identified.
  6. Examine finances and legal records to make certain someone has been designated as power of attorney to guarantee the person’s wishes will be followed and decisions made on their behalf when necessary.
  7. Find support – through a web-based or in-person group for family caregivers, and also for the specific diagnosis if at all possible.

What is important to bear in mind is you are not alone! At-Home Care Company, a trusted provider of senior care in Des Moines, IA and the surrounding areas, is always available to work with you, creating opportunities for you to step away from your caregiving responsibilities for your own needs and interests. Caring for yourself is essential to having the ability to effectively care for somebody else. Schedule ongoing, regular time away for self-care including:

  • Working out – at least 20 minutes of exercise three times per week, or per doctor’s instructions.
  • Healthy eating – avoid the drive-through and quick, sugary, or salty snacks and opt for nutritious choices
  • Rest – something which is extremely challenging when taking care of someone with cognitive impairment, but quite crucial
  • Medical and dental examinations – including tending to your mental health to protect yourself from caregiver burnout and depression
  • Comforting, satisfying activities – reading, a dinner date with a good friend, and whatever hobbies and interests brighten your day

Call At-Home Care Company at 515-292-2650 for more information on our respite care services, provided by fully trained and experienced senior care professionals. Request a complimentary consultation and let us help you guarantee the best possible care for someone you love with cognitive decline – and, for yourself.