Caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia is more than a full-time job. It’s 24 hours a day, every day of the week. That’s not a pace anyone can maintain for long.

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Whether you’re in a situation where you still have to go to work every day, or you just need some part-time respite, you may decide you’d like some assistance with your role as caring for a person who has Alzheimer’s (or other form of dementia). Adult day care services from Thoughtful Care specialize in caring for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

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Kansas City winters can be really cold. Add in some snow and ice, and you’ve got potentially dangerous new obstacles for someone who has Alzheimer’s. As a caregiver, you’ll want to do all you can to ensure you’re loved one with dementia stays safe. Here are some winter safety tips:

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Alzheimer’s disease is a life-changing illness. So if you, or a loved one, have been recently diagnosed, you’re probably wondering what to do next. Here are some idea that can help move you in the right direction.

Get information. Knowing what you’re up against can go a long way toward helping you manage your disease. The Alzheimer’s Association’s Heart of America Chapter is a good place to find accurate information you can use to read up on Alzheimer’s.

Get regular medical care. See your doctor regularly, and ask for a referral to a memory clinic (there are clinics in Kansas City and in Overland Park).

Gather support. Take note of the people you already have in your life who will be willing to help as your disease progresses. If you’re not sure, ask. Support groups can also be helpful, as many people find comfort in talking to others who can relate to what they’re going through. Fortunately, there are lots of Alzheimer’s support groups in the Kansas City area. Also, you’ll want to develop a relationship with a home health agency that can help you later with things like personal care (e.g., bathing), meal preparation, house cleaning, transportation, and more.

Update your living will. If you don’t have a living will, the time to sign one is now. It will let healthcare workers know what type of medical care you want (or don’t want) in the event you should become unable to make decisions for yourself. You’ll also want to sign a healthcare power of attorney, which will allow you to choose someone now to make healthcare decisions for you if you become unable. Your doctor should be able to help you obtain the necessary paperwork for both documents.

Do some financial planning. A financial power of attorney is also a good idea. It’s used to assign someone to handle your finances if you become unable. You may also want to go ahead and update your will. And you’ll want to consider ways to cover your healthcare costs.

Think about safety. Have a home care agency that specializes in Alzheimer’s conduct a safety check on your home. And read the National Institute on Aging’s home safety guide for people with Alzheimer’s.

Stay healthy. A healthy diet has been shown to improve brain health; and scientists believe aerobic exercise may reverse Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Adjust your work hours. If you’re beginning to have trouble doing your job, see if you can reduce your work hours or switch to a position that isn’t so demanding. You might also want to ask your human resources department about family medical leave or disability benefits. And check with your local Social Security office about applying for Social Security Disability.

Consider a clinical trial. The University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center is currently enrolling people in research studies with the hope of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. These clinical trials may offer treatment methods that are not yet available to others.

Keep having fun. Continue to do the things you enjoy for as long as you’re able.

Although Alzheimer’s disease will certainly change your life, a little preparation will help things go more smoothly.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, around 60% of all people with Alzheimer’s or dementia will wander. There are a number of reasons why. The person might be looking for something (or someone), get lost while walking, be trying to make his or her way home (while already at home), or just be bored.

We were fortunate that my mom, who had Alzheimer’s, didn’t wander. She always was a bit of a homebody, but that’s still no guarantee.  Wandering can be dangerous, and therefore take a toll on your family (as if you don’t have enough to deal with). So it’s important to be vigilant about making sure someone with dementia doesn’t leave the house alone.

If you’re providing elder care at home, here are some things you can do to keep your wandering loved one from taking an unscheduled walking tour of Kansas City or Overland Park:

  1. Secure your home. Add new deadbolts and put them up high where they can’t be reached by the person who has dementia.
  2. Maintain a routine. Structure can help keep your loved one from veering off course.
  3. Be alert for possible triggers. Does Mom tend to want to leave the house after dinner? If so, take a walk with her.
  4. Make sure you’re meeting the person’s needs. For example, are you providing plenty of food, water and bathroom breaks? My mom had a thing about brushing her teeth, so she carried a toothbrush and toothpaste in her purse.
  5. Install signs and alarms. Add alarms to windows and doors. Put up signs that say, Stop” or “Do Not Enter.” Some people with dementia can still follow directions, so the signs may keep them from going outside.
  6. Hide the car keys. If you provide easy accessibility, your loved one may soon be cruising through Prairie Village.
  7. Avoid crowds. They may cause fear and confusion.
  8. Prevent boredom. Try to engage your loved one in activities that will keep him or her busy.
  9. Be prepared. Make sure the person with Alzheimer’s is carrying ID at all times. Keep pictures handy in case they’re needed, and make sure you know what your loved one is wearing at all times.

Care of the elderly can be tricky, especially when Alzheimer’s or dementia is involved. Some added home security measures and staving off boredom can be keys to keeping a senior from wandering.