Sparking the Life of a Loved One With Dementia

When Ellen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, her daughter wanted to care for her mother at home. But like many busy families, it was a struggle to tend to Ellen’s needs while also raising children and working a full-time job. In 2018, the family reached out to Homespire, an Intermountain Healthcare company.

According to Jennifer Beck-Schmidt, RN, DC, Homespire’s Director of Nursing and General Manager, many adult children want to care for their aging parents at home, a trend that has significantly increased since the pandemic. “The thinking is, ‘Now that I’m working from home and the kids are remote learning, we can handle this,’” said Jen. “They have the best of intentions, but the stress of being a full-time parent, home-school teacher, employee, and caregiver can quickly become overwhelming.”

Before Homespire got involved, Ellen had been spending her days lying on the couch, relying on family members to bring her food and keep her clean, explained Jen. “But we quickly discovered that with reminders and coaching from her Nurse Care Manager and caregivers, Ellen could actually do quite a bit on her own,” she said.

While Ellen was still independent with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), such as walking, bathing, toileting, and dressing, she only needed couple of hours of caregiving each day. But as her dementia progressed, she needed more hands-on help. Still, her Homespire caregivers were committed to keeping Ellen actively engaged by giving her simple tasks to do in the kitchen, taking her on walks each day, and going for drives. “It’s so important for seniors to maintain a sense of control over their lives,” said Jen. “Even clients with advanced dementia don’t have to feel helpless or completely dependent.”

Download our guide: Getting Assistance for ADLs

Eventually, Ellen stopped speaking, which often occurs in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease. But one day, when Ellen and her Nurse Care Manager were visiting the Cat Café in Salt Lake City, Ellen suddenly began singing to the cats and even read them a story. Over dinner that night, she found the words to tell her family about the cats and how she’d sung to them. By the following afternoon, Ellen had drifted back into silence, but for her family, it was profoundly moving to have their mom and grandmother back, even just for one day.

With daily support from the Homespire team, Ellen continues to live with her family. When she needs additional medical attention, her Nurse Care Manager can arrange a virtual visit with Ellen’s primary care physician at Intermountain Healthcare or get a referral for in-home physical therapy from Intermountain Homecare. “Our Nurse Care Managers are powerful advocates for our clients,” said Jen. “As healthcare professionals, they know how to navigate the system to find the right resources to support families and their loved ones.”

To learn about Homespire’s services and how we can inspire your loved one’s life, schedule a free consultation.

 

Note: The names in this story have been changed to protect the family’s privacy.