Arrange a Rotating Family ScheduleIf you're fortunate enough to have other family members in the area, consider setting up a schedule and dividing up the responsibilities of care giving. You may need to ask a family member what they can contribute, such as a whole day every week, 2 hours over lunchtime or an evening every week. When you agree on something, be sure to write it down and post it in an agreed-upon location. This way, everyone involved can be reminded of their shift and can also work out trades with other family members when events come up.
You can also divide up responsibilities by designating someone specific to take care of clothing, food, bill paying, physician appointments, medications, bathing, etc. Again, write it down to avoid any confusion or miscommunication.
Hire a CompanionIf your loved one doesn't have many specific nursing needs but requires someone to be with them, consider arranging a companion to come in periodically. This person can help with meals, ensure your loved one's safety by preventing her from wandering away or do some light housekeeping. Occasionally, you may find a companion through a religious group or school that values volunteering, but most often you will have to pay someone for their time.
Many communities have agencies that offer trained companions for hire. You may also find help through a trusted friend, neighbor, or college student. You will want to conduct a criminal background check on the individual before hiring them if they are not well-known to you to prevent identity theft or other concerns.
Meals on WheelsIf preparing food or remembering to eat regularly becomes too difficult, many communities have meal services available. These agencies will deliver a ready-made healthy meal right to your home. Check out Meals on Wheels for more information.
Home Health CareIf your loved one has medical conditions that require trained expertise, you can hire nurse aides or assistants for in-home help. For example, if bathing or showering is a particularly difficult task, you can hire a nurse aide to come in for a couple hours to assist with this. You can also arrange for them to come for a whole day or several hours at a time if you're gone at work, knowing that they are trained to help with incontinence, difficult behaviors or other challenges.
As with companions, larger communities often have several agencies that offer nurse aides for hire. You can also contact local colleges or universities for nursing students or place an ad in the paper offering the position. Again, consider conducting a background check for safety.
Although many programs require private funds, some facilities may have grants or assistance funds available to help. Adult day care programs can be one way to keep your loved one residing at home while still receiving stimulation and care during the day when you're not home. Many individuals become very comfortable with the staff and really enjoy their time at these centers.
Visiting Nurses & PhysiciansDo you have a difficult time getting your loved one to the physician's office? Most communities or their surrounding area have visiting nurses and visiting physicians. They will come to your home to provide assessment and care. Some of these medical services provided may be covered by Medicare, Medicaid or your insurance, while others may be available only by paying a fee. Check online or in your phone book to see if visiting nurses and physicians are available in your area.
Alzheimer's Association. Types of Care. Accessed July 31, 2011.http://www.alz.org/carefinder/careoptions/options1.asp
Alzheimer's Society. Living Alone. Accessed July 31, 2011.http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=107