Home care for dementia can come in a variety of forms, from a family member to a visiting nurse and many other options across the spectrum of caregiving. Kagan says the specifics really “depend on the family, but people who are well-trained in dementia care would be ideal as they understand the progression of the disease. These caregivers focus on the likes and dislikes of the patient, and can adapt to the patient’s personality or moods which can be erratic. Trained caregivers know to incorporate activities in the patient’s day that will stimulate memory.”
Randall agrees that specialized training to help support the special needs of someone with dementia can be very useful. “It could be a formal caregiver or somebody who is specially trained, such as a home health care worker who has gotten additional training in the care for someone who has dementia. But often the most common providers of this care are informal, unpaid caregivers – friends and family. Often, they’re responsible for a lot of the activities of daily living,” she says. And there’s data on who these people tend to be. “Many of them are over the age of 65 themselves. Two-thirds of them are women and one-third are daughters. We know that having a daughter or daughter-in-law means someone will be more likely to be cared for in their home longer. We also know that about a quarter of those caregivers are in the sandwich generation. So not only are they caring for an older loved one with dementia, they’re also often caring for a child under the age of 18. The cost and the toll that takes on us as a nation is quite daunting,” she says.
Contributor Elaine K. Howley