More than 5.2 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s and this number is growing. Today, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease every 67 seconds; by mid-century, it will be one every 33 seconds. Although age is a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s, the disease can strike individuals as early as their 40s and 50s, as depicted in the 2015 film “Still Alice.” In fact, up to 5 percent of those living with the disease have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.
Family members and friends caring for loved ones in the middle or later stages of Alzheimer’s disease tell experts they frequently find themselves frustrated, overwhelmed and exhausted. Even when a caregiver knows that the memory disorder is likely behind their loved one’s sudden agitation, accusations of theft, abrupt refusal to take a bath, or socially inappropriate behavior in public, the situation can be exasperating. By the time they seek help, many family members express that they feel guilty because they’re unable to respond well to the myriad of new issues that arise as the disease progresses.
Throughout my tenure at Home Instead Senior Care, caregivers have often said to me, “I wish this disease came with a manual.” I’ve also noticed that professional caregivers sometimes find themselves in situations where they could use some on-the-go advice on how to handle a sudden and unexpected behavior.
A mobile app developed by Home Instead Senior Care, called Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias Daily Companion, gives caregivers immediate advice with nearly 500 searchable, professionally-screened tips and practical ideas in 25 categories to help deal with behaviors and situations related to Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Caregivers also can share their own advice to benefit other families. And a built-in rating system enables users to provide feedback on each tip, so caregivers can benefit from others’ insight.
The Home Instead Daily Companion app advice is comprehensive and easily accessed. We are including it in the dementia training required for all employees of our local Home Instead Senior Care office who provide home helper and companionship services for seniors. But Home Instead has made the app free to anyone, giving both professional and family/friend caregivers the ability to greatly shorten their learning curve so they can provide proficient, competent care for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia from the very beginning.
Becky Beanblossom is president of Home Instead Senior Care in east Louisville and Oldham County, Kentucky, and Vice Chairman of the Board of the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana.
Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Verizon Wireless.