Home Care Expert Insights

In Conversation with Brenda Freed & Alder Allensworth to Bring their Insights on Alzheimer’s Care

Alzheimer’s disease, an intricate neurological condition impacting countless lives worldwide, necessitates specialized care and unwavering support as it progresses. Amidst this challenging journey, Alzheimer’s care takes center stage, encompassing various services tailored to address the unique needs of individuals grappling with the disease.

Within this landscape, home care emerges as a compelling alternative, offering a compassionate and personalized approach within the comforting confines of one’s cherished abode. From assisting with daily tasks and medication management to fostering social engagement and emotional solace, home care becomes a pivotal force, amplifying the well-being of those affected by Alzheimer’s while providing respite and reassurance to their families. In this ever-evolving realm, Alzheimer’s care and home care converge to reshape lives with unwavering dedication.

To shed some light on the same, we interviewed home care industry experts to bring their perspectives on dementia care to light.

Expert QA session with Brenda Freed & Alder Allensworth

Who Did We Interview?

Alder Allensworth, MM, RN, is a registered nurse and has a Master’s degree in Music Therapy. The inspiration for this project came from Allensworth’s personal experience watching her Mother, who had Alzheimer’s, interact with the grandchildren. Professionally, she worked with children and geriatrics, including those with Alzheimer’s disease.

Allensworth has also published several articles in professional journals. She won a Richter Publishing book contract in 2017. Her book, Prevail: Celebrate the Journey, is available on Amazon and has a five-star review rating. She is a speaker and presenter in the field of disabilities on local, national, and international stages. Allensworth has been featured on CNN, local and international television, and in newspapers for her life’s work of promoting quality of life for people of all abilities.

Brenda Freed, MA, has a Master’s degree in Music Education/Music Therapy with an emphasis on counseling. Freed pioneered the Music Therapy Program at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where she worked with patients of all ages and diagnoses, including Alzheimer’s disease. She has published music therapy articles, a poetry magazine, and an arts and entertainment magazine.

Freed teaches voice, piano, and guitar online to all ages, voice and harmony workshops at festivals and conferences, and has produced a line of Effortless Music Instruction Products. She created the Young Artist Performance Incubator (YAPI) program at the renowned Kerrville Folk Festival. Freed is also a performing singer-songwriter with several published albums of original material. She and her husband perform as Him & Her TX.

Let’s get started with knowing what our experts think of the home care industry:

Question 1: What, in your opinion, can caregivers do to support seniors with Alzheimer’s?

  • Listen and be supportive.
  • Provide fun activities to do with them.
  • Encourage them to do activities they can still do – fold laundry; sort fruit and beans; knit, sort silverware, polish silverware, set the table, dust, vacuum, wash dishes, and dry dishes.
  • Keep the environment calm and quiet.
  • Learn about the disease so there are realistic expectations of what they can and can’t do.
    Open themselves up to receive assistance. Sometimes caregivers try to do it all themselves and become burned out. There is support out there.
  • Open themselves up to receive assistance. Sometimes caregivers try to do it all themselves and become burned out. There is support out there.
  • Encourage the support to be multi-generational. Incorporate children, friends, and family into your loved one’s life.

Question 2: Do Alzheimer’s patients need to make certain lifestyle changes to minimize the impact?

Yes, certain lifestyle changes can make life easier when a person who has Alzheimer’s can no longer do what they are used to doing. Many need to stop driving because they are getting lost or confused.

People’s daily routines change if they can no longer go out to have a morning cup of coffee with friends. Alzheimer’s patients may not have the cognitive ability to make lifestyle changes. However, Alder remembers a woman who realized she could not remember things, so she started color-coding her business’s accounting books to give her clues about what needed to be done. It helped for a while.

Question 3: How should family members and caregivers communicate with Alzheimer’s patients?

  • Don’t argue with them.
  • Listen and try to get to the feelings behind what they are saying.
  • Communicate with love and understanding.
  • Be a detective and figure out what they are trying to say.
  • Sometimes make up a story to relieve stress. For example, if the person is a nurse and wants to go to work, tell them you will call. Report back that they are not on the schedule for that day. The person will probably feel relieved.
  • Even if they have told you the story before, be patient and listen like it is the first time. Ask them questions about the story to engage with them.
  • Always introduce who you are upfront and what relationship you have with them. For example, “Hello, I’m Brenda, your daughter.”
  • Use a memory book to talk about the past.

Question 4: Do caregivers and family members need to take certain steps to make the elderly’s house Alzheimer’s friendly?

Yes. Remove mirrors because they are confusing for the person with Alzheimer’s. Additionally, make sure to:

  • Label the doors to rooms.
  • Remove extra rugs so they don’t trip.
  • Remove clutter to simplify stimulation.
  • Keep the environment calm and quiet.

Question 5: What advice do you give to caregivers dealing with Alzheimer’s older adults?

  • Don’t take anything personally.
  • All of the answers to all of the above questions.
  • If the person is missing someone they have forgotten has died, we advise you not to tell them that person they are missing has died. They could end up grieving over and over. Just let them know the person is unavailable at that time and has taken a trip or anything that will make sense as to why the person they’re missing is not there. It is all right to fabricate a little to keep someone calm and peaceful.
  • They won’t remember your response, but they will remember how you made them feel.
  • Use traditional family activities to divert from confusion and engage in relationships. Music is always a wonderful tool to encourage engagement.

For more Alzheimer’s awareness information, tips and activities to incorporate into the home care of a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease, see www.mackenziemeetsalzheimers.com – a resource to help children and families.

In Conclusion

Home care in Alzheimer’s care is crucial in supporting and assisting individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s home care involves a comprehensive approach that encompasses medical, emotional, and social support tailored to the specific needs of each person. It aims to enhance the quality of life for the affected individuals and their families by offering specialized care, promoting cognitive stimulation, providing families with caregiving tools, and effectively managing symptoms.

Home care services allow a person who has Alzheimer’s to age in place in a familiar, loving, multigenerational and comfortable environment while receiving professional care. These services alleviate the burden on caregivers and contribute to maintaining the autonomy and dignity of those living with Alzheimer’s.

Together, home care is vital in ensuring the well-being and holistic care of individuals affected by Alzheimer’s, this progressive neurodegenerative disease.

Want to contribute to our expert insights for the 'Home Care Q/A' series?

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Want to contribute to our expert insights for the 'Home Care Q/A' series?

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