Is It Safe to Leave a Person With Alzheimer’s Alone?

April 2, 2010 at 12:56 am Leave a comment

Is it safe to leave a person with Alzheimer’s alone? What if you have to work, have to go to the doctor’s or just  need to take a walk.  Is it safe to step out for a  few minutes? Few hours? All day? Caregivers want to know. They have jobs, need to take care of their personal life and health, and just need a break. The answer is…it depends.

Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia. Both effect parts of the brain, including memory, but it can also effect other cognitive abilities such as our ability to reason–and even our impulses.  Alzheimer’s has stages, can progress slowly–or rapidly, and can even plateau for a period of time. That part of the disease is difficult to measure and is usually observed and diagnosed–meaning they look at a person’s symptoms to figure out what stage they’re in.

I’m skipping the medical jargon, but here’s some great sites that explain Alzheimer’s for the layperson.

Check out:

Stages of Alzheimer’s (Alzheimer’s Association)

The Alzheimer’s Brain (Mayo Clinic)

So deciding whether to leave your loved one who has Alzheimer’s is a lot like parenting. You know your loved one better than anyone. You have a better feel for the situation and your gut can guide you. But if you have a check, you need to ere on the side of caution. Too much is at stake.

If your loved one has early stage Alzheimer’s/dementia, you may be able to run to the store and leave them for a half hour. If your loved one can’t remember how to press the emergency call button or dial 911, or will get confused and leave the house to try to find you, it’s probably not wise to leave them.

That’s why it’s so important to build your support system. You do need to run errands, take care of your health, and even meet a friend for lunch–but it’ll be even better if you can do it with a peace of mind.

Build Your Caregiving Circle of Care:

  • Ask a neighbor to sit with your loved one
  • Ask an extended family member
  • Call your local church to see if they have a list of volunteers
  • Call your local Council on Aging or other elder resources in your community and ask for volunteers
  • Check out adult day care centers in your area
  • Call some of your loved one’s old friends or coworkers. They might enjoy an afternoon visit while you run errands
  • Call your local college and ask for the nursing department to see if they have interns who could help
  • Hire a local college student
  • Check out various home health agencies–many are resonable. A CNA can cost about $15-$20 an hour
  • Be sure to also check out respite care for longer times–a long weekend
  • Check out local care homes to see if you can pay for your loved one to stay for a few weeks if you need to plan a surgery for yourself or need to take a long trip

Ask and keep asking. Don’t give up if the first couple of call lead you to dead ends. I promise, one of these will work–and not only will you get some additional help, you create relationships and can even enrich their lives.

Perhaps the question isn’t whether or not your loved one can be left home alone…it’s that they don’t have to.

Entry filed under: brain fitness, caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving. Tags: .

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Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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