Caring for Someone with Dementia While Employed

You’re working full time at a Kansas City job you love, and your wife (or another loved one) has just been diagnosed with dementia. Now what? Here are some tips that might help:

Talk to your employer. Let your employer know you’re caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia. Explore possibilities to ease your burden, such as flexible work hours, working from home, or going from full-time to part-time employment.

Take a brief leave of absence. Use the time to safeguard your home and determine who will see to your loved one’s needs while you’re at work.

Check with your human resources department to see if you’re entitled to paid time off under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA won’t kick in until you’ve used up your sick time, but it allows you to take additional time off without using your personal or vacation time.

Educate yourself. Prepare yourself to deal with certain physical limitations and behavioral aspects of dementia before they develop. Examples include wandering, aggression, communication issues, sleep problems, and incontinence. The more prepared you are in advance, the less distracted you’ll be at work as your loved one’s dementia progresses.

Gather support. If you have family and friends in Kansas City, find out who’s available and willing to help. Determine your needs and ask for volunteers. People who say they’re willing to help often don’t know how unless you’re specific in what you need. And some people are more suited to certain tasks than others.

Some of the things you might need include adult day care, transportation to and from appointments, meal preparation, bathing and grooming, and/or housekeeping.

Access Kansas City Alzheimer’s resources. There are a lot of Alzheimer’s resources in the Kansas City area. For example, the Alzheimer’s Association – Heart of America Chapter has developed a library of Alzheimer’s resources and a list of Kansas City Alzheimer’s support group. They also offer a 24/7 Alzheimer’s helpline.

Get outside help. If you don’t have enough family and friends to provide for your loved one’s care while you’re working, you may want to enlist the help of a Kansas City home health agency that specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia care. A good home care agency can give you peace of mind while you’re at work by providing Alzheimer’s day care right in your home.