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Essential Tools for Dementia Caregivers Needs to Know

Barbara had been caring for her mother, who suffered from dementia, for five years. In that time, she had become an expert in managing the numerous daily challenges associated with dementia caregiving. One sunny Tuesday afternoon, Barbara was working in her home office. Her mother, Emily, was peacefully enjoying her favorite television show in the living room. Barbara checked on Emily every few minutes, just as she always did, to make sure she was safe and content.

Suddenly, the phone rang. It was the local supermarket. "We have your mother here with us," said the manager, a hint of concern in his voice. Emily had quietly slipped out of the house, unnoticed, and wandered off to the supermarket on her own. The manager found Emily disoriented, confused, and upset in aisle six. Barbara's heart sank. She felt guilty and terrified. What if Emily had gotten lost or hurt?

For many daughters like Barbara, caring for a parent with dementia is a rewarding yet challenging journey. It's a role filled with love and empathy, yet often punctuated by constant worry and sleepless nights. One of the most daunting challenges is ensuring the safety of your loved one, especially when you can't be by their side every moment. This fear is all too real when faced with scenarios like elopement, which carry risks of injury or worse.

But imagine if there was a way to keep your loved one safe, even when you can't be in the same room? What if technology could offer a safety net, a constant virtual companion that would allow you to provide care remotely, ensuring your parent's safety without infringing on their independence? In the age of smartphones and smart homes, this is not a distant reality, but an accessible solution available to you right now.

Stay with us as we explore how technology can be harnessed to improve dementia care, offering practical solutions that can alleviate some of the pressures of caregiving and provide peace of mind. From medication reminders and GPS tracking to online support groups, technology has the power to transform the experience of caregiving for daughters like Barbara and you. Because no one should have to face the fear of the supermarket phone call.

The Role of Technology in Dementia Care: A Spotlight on Preventing Elopement

Technology is stepping up to the plate to help with this issue, giving daughters and sons across the globe the means to safeguard their loved ones. Today, we'll discuss five remote monitoring technologies that are revolutionizing dementia care and offering peace of mind.

  1. i-trac: This GPS Personal Tracker is small, user-friendly, and can be worn as a wristband. It allows caregivers to monitor their loved one's location in real-time and set safety zones. If the person steps out of these zones, an alert is sent to the caregiver's phone. For more information, visit i-trac's website.

  2. MindMe Locate: This service provides a GPS device which can be carried in a bag or pocket. With features like fall detection and a SOS button, MindMe Locate is a wonderful tool to ensure your loved one's safety at all times. Visit MindMe's website for more details.

  3. Electronic Caregiver: More than a simple tracking device, the Electronic Caregiver offers comprehensive health and safety monitoring. It includes features like medication reminders, a 24/7 emergency response team, and location tracking, providing a robust solution for caregivers. Find out more on the Electronic Caregiver website.

  4. Home Security Cameras: Cameras installed at strategic points in the house can provide real-time video feed to caregivers. This is particularly useful for individuals with dementia living alone or those at high risk of elopement. Some popular options are Nest, Arlo, and Ring, all offering motion alerts and two-way audio.

  5. GPS Smart Shoes: Imagine if your loved one's shoes could tell you exactly where they are? Companies like GTX Corp offer smart shoes with an embedded GPS tracker. If they leave a designated safe area, you receive an alert. Check out GTX Corp's website for more information.

The cost of managing elopement and its repercussions can be overwhelming. From additional medical care due to injuries sustained during wandering episodes, to the cost of law enforcement involvement and search operations, the figures can quickly add up. Not to mention the emotional toll it takes on the caregiver and their family. A study in the American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias estimated that incidents of wandering can cost approximately $1,000 per episode.

These technological solutions, in contrast, are not just potentially life-saving, but also cost-effective in the long run. They provide an extra layer of security, helping ensure your loved one can live as independently as possible while minimizing the risk of wandering or elopement.

With the right technology in place, caregivers can feel more confident and secure in their role. Because at the end of the day, caring for a loved one with dementia is about more than just safety. It's about preserving their dignity, their independence, and their joy in the everyday moments of life.

In this digital age, let's leverage technology to make the caregiving journey a little less daunting.

Simplicity Meets Safety: Low-Tech Solutions for Peace of Mind in Dementia Care

Now, not everyone has access to high-speed internet or feels comfortable navigating complex technology. For those in rural areas, or those who simply prefer simpler solutions, here are some lower tech and non-internet-based strategies to help prevent elopement in dementia care:

  1. Door and Window Alarms: These easy-to-install alarms provide an audible alert when a door or window is opened, helping to prevent unnoticed wandering. Check out options like the Caregiver P-01 Door Alarm available on Amazon.

  2. Safety Identification Jewelry: Simple, wearable IDs like MedicAlert bracelets can provide crucial information if your loved one does wander and is found by someone unfamiliar with their condition. You can find out more on the MedicAlert website.

  3. Camouflaging Doors: A straightforward but often effective strategy involves camouflaging doors or exits with curtains, posters or paint. This can discourage the impulse to wander outdoors.

  4. Light Bulbs with Cameras: For those without internet but with electricity, there are options like light bulbs with built-in cameras. These devices, like the ones from Camera Bulb Company, can record video for later review.

  5. Motion Detector Lights and Alarms: A motion sensor paired with a light or an alarm can alert caregivers if their loved one is moving in an area they shouldn’t be, such as near exits during the night. Options include the 1byone Safety Driveway Alarm, available on Amazon.

  6. Color-Coded Objects: Color can be used to guide individuals with dementia. A brightly colored mat by the door could signal an exit, or a brightly colored blanket on their bed could remind them where they should be at night.

  7. Keeping a Routine: Routines provide a sense of familiarity and security, which can reduce the likelihood of wandering. Having a regular schedule for meals, activities, and sleep can provide structure and comfort.

  8. Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity can help reduce anxiety and restlessness, both of which can contribute to wandering. Make sure there's a safe space for your loved one to move and stretch.

By incorporating a combination of these low-tech solutions, you can create a safe, comfortable environment for your loved one with dementia. Each of these tools, when used in tandem with a patient, understanding approach to dementia care, can reduce the risk of wandering and bring much-needed peace of mind to caregivers. In the world of dementia care, every bit of reassurance counts, and every tool that makes the journey a little easier is a victory.

Conclusion:

Navigating the world of dementia care can sometimes feel like wandering through an unfamiliar forest at night. Each unfamiliar sound sends your heart racing. Each unexpected movement leaves you on edge. But you're not alone. Together, we can shed light on the unknown and turn overwhelming challenges into empowering victories.

As a daughter caring for a parent with dementia, you are the unsung hero. Your compassion, patience, and tireless devotion illuminate the way for others on the same journey. But even heroes need a helping hand, a guiding light, and a moment to catch their breath.

That's why we invite you to join our free workshop on June 24, 2023, at 12 pm EDT. Aptly titled "From Overwhelmed to Empowered: A Workshop for Daughters of Dementia", this event is designed to equip you with the tools, insights, and support you need to thrive in your caregiving role.

In this workshop, you'll learn more practical strategies for dealing with dementia challenges and gain insights into how you can feel more empowered in your dementia journey. You'll also connect with other daughters of dementia, providing an invaluable network of shared experiences and mutual support.

Above all, this workshop is an opportunity to step back from the daily grind of caregiving, to reflect, and to recharge. We believe that when you're empowered with the right knowledge and support, the daunting forest of dementia care becomes a journey through a well-lit park.

Let us walk with you on this journey. To register for the workshop, simply click here. Because together, we can move from feeling overwhelmed to being empowered. And in doing so, we can ensure that our loved ones experience the dignity, love, and joy they so richly deserve.

We look forward to meeting you at the workshop. Because the world of dementia care is brighter when we navigate it together.

Read More:

One Mistake A Dementia Caregiver Makes By Not Traveling With Kathy Smith Shoaf

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If you feel like dementia caregiving is hard and unpredictable and you are struggling to help a spouse or a parent living with dementia, join our next free workshop.
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About the author

“Think Different” Dementia’s owner, Lizette Cloete, OTR/L graduated as an Occupational Therapist from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1992. Lizette has almost 30 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist in a variety of settings, the latest being in the home health environment. She enjoys teaching on the topic of dementia, most recently presenting at a national conference on the topic “Dementia Made Simple”.

Disclaimer: These blogs, videos and any work done by Lizette Cloete OT, as a Member of Think Different Dementia, LLC, is given only as educational content and consulting work. This does not create an Occupational Therapist-Patient Relationship. The educational content and consulting work performed should not be considered medical treatment as an Occupational Therapist. The consulting work does not take the place of medical work normally performed by a licensed Occupational Therapist. Please consult a licensed Occupational Therapist for medical advice.

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