Tips for Working with Alzheimer Patients in the Home

Source from the Home Care Daily Weekly Industry News and Information E-Newsletter

Providing in-home care for people with Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia has unique challenges that differ from those placed into assisted living facilities or nursing homes.  It is a fact that the majority of seniors wish to age in place in their homes. The challenge is how to do this safely while still giving the client and any family members the freedoms they are accustomed to, after all, it is THEIR home.

Step one is to perform a physical assessment of the home. Here are a few examples of what to look for:

  • Are there locks on bathroom doors? These could pose a problem as a person who has had a lifetime of locking the door while in the bathroom could now forget how to unlock the door, causing them to get stuck in the bathroom. This could trigger panic or a fear of using the bathroom in the future.
  • Are there working fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in the home? Family members, as well as paid caregivers, should all be aware of the location, know how to use them and be sure they are in good working order.
  • Utilize new sensor technology to monitor doors, bathrooms, pill boxes and cooking equipment. These sensors can offer a great deal of protection and information.  Websites such as www.safeat-home.comoffer information on these and many other very useful technologies.

The more challenging changes that need to be considered are those with family members. In a facility, family members come to visit as guests, but in home care, we are the guests in their home. This can make it very challenging when lifelong routines and behaviors may be triggering problematic behaviors with our clients.

Here are a few examples of changes that should be considered.

  • For many couples, bickering and fighting are a normal part of their lives together. The problem is that reasoning and self-control are often lost when someone has dementia. The non-demented spouse must learn to change, which can be difficult. It can be very challenging to get a person to alter their relationship after 50 or more years of being together.
  • Teaching family members to say they are sorry, even when they are right. For some, this can be a real challenge. It must be made very clear that the person suffering from dementia no longer has the ability to understand when they are wrong, therefore it is up to the non-demented person to take the lead and give in when necessary.
  • Encouraging family members to seek support of professional counseling or to attend support groups.
  • Children of aging seniors must readjust expectations of what their parent can now do. While they may physically still look the same, changes have taken place within their brain causing new behaviors and diminishing their mental capabilities.

When done properly, the home can be a safe and preferred place for seniors with Alzheimer’s or other dementias to age in place. For more information about this go to

This article was written by Gary Skole, owner of AlzBetter LLC. AlzBetter combines technology with creative thinking and common sense to help manage the care of people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Gary can be reached at 856-281-1200