At What Point Do Dementia Patients Need 24 Hour Care?


Being a family member of a dementia patient, it may become difficult to decide at what point your loved one needs 24-hours care. Living with dementia patients is not easy. They need constant support, care, and look after. Delivering them safe care is not easy either. At some point, you may feel burn out and may need help yourself. Instead of taking pressure and feeling the guilt of not giving the care to your loved ones that they deserve, you can always hire a professional caregiver.

If your beloved one has dementia then this article is specifically for you to recognise the signs for 24-hour care. Here are some signs that will aid in determining the right time to hire a caregiver.

Aggressive behaviour in dementia patients:

You should not take the signs of aggression and agitation lightly in the dementia patient. Often your loved one displaying aggressive behaviour is in need of help. Physical attacks and violent aggression commonly occur in people with dementia. This kind of behaviour is the response of the patient to the false signals generated in his brain or sometimes simply an attempt to communicate. The communication skill in the dementia people is severely affected. They manifest this behaviour often to seek attention for their personal need such as hunger, loneliness, boredom, or physical pain. Dementia patient frequently shows aggressive behaviour because of stressful stimuli such as temperature, noise and family distress. It is difficult for a common man to understand what the reason behind this behaviour is but a caregiver easily comprehends it. Concluding it aggressive behaviour is a call for help!

Caregiver stress:

As mentioned earlier, giving care to dementia people is not easy. The professionals are pro because of their prior experiences and their efficacy in their job. When a layman gives care to his/her beloved one at some point he/she may experience caregiver strain. This condition is characterised by mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion. A caregiver usually develops this syndrome because of constantly neglecting his/herself. The person forgets to set boundaries, creates unrealistic and impractical expectations, and ends up burnt out. The overwhelming needs of the loved one make the caregiver frustrated and stressed. Chronic stress eventually leads to serious health issues such as hypertension and diabetes mellitus. The early symptoms of caregiver strain include:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Social withdrawal
  • Exhaustion
  • Depression
  • Denial

Being a caregiver to your loved one, if you feel like having little to no support for yourself then it’s the time to get a professional caregiver.

Your loved one’s safety:

The judgment and memory of dementia patients become poor. The person is an easy prone to domestic accidents. They need constant monitoring to prevent this occurring. 24-hour care becomes integral for home safety to such an extent that a person cannot even identify common hazards.

Increasing forgetfulness:

One of the earliest symptoms of dementia is memory loss. This problem gradually increases with time and starts interfering with daily life activities. Increasing forgetfulness may cause the person to forget even daily chores. The patient will not pay attention to his/her hygiene, often remains dirty, and is unable to complete routine activities. This adds to the burden on the family and the carer. If this happens, then it is time to hire a professional 24-hour carer.

Mobility issues:

Dementia patients tend to be more mobile than in many any other medical problem. The effects of the condition can cause wandering. Wandering, as a medical term, is defined as a clinical symptom noticed in dementia patients characterised by frequent, repetitive, temporally confused behaviour manifesting as random, lapping, and/or pacing patterns that may or may not be associated with eloping attempts, and straying unless accompanied.

The wandering in dementia patients is sometimes purposeful and other times completely unintentional. Wandering is a dangerous sign in dementia patients. It often results in injuries of varying severity, high rescue cost, even death. This significantly increases carer stress and economical burden of the family. The patient at this stage should not be left alone.

Sundowning:

It is defined as the set of symptoms occurring in the late afternoon or early evening. The symptoms of sundowning include aggression, agitation, anxiety, pacing, resistance, wandering, yelling, and auditory and visual hallucination. Sundowning specifically occurs at the time of sunset or more vaguely with the emergence of darkness. The appearance of this irrational behaviour at the time of work significantly accelerates caregiver stress.

Sundowning drastically affects the routine of the entire family and creates a distressful environment, which eventually increases dementia symptoms. If your loved one is showing these symptoms then it is time to consider hiring a professional caregiver.

What does 24-hour care for dementia people include?

Hiring a professional caregiver provides support and comfort to both the patient and his/her family. The caregiver resides with the patient as unfamiliar places and surroundings create confusion and stress, and worsen dementia. This allows care at the home while maintaining the privacy and independence of the patient.

A 24-hour carer helps in carrying out the daily activity and all the domestic chores smoothly. Depending on the stage of dementia they will provide the service. They help in washing and bathing, dressing and undressing, maintaining personal hygiene, preparing meals, monitoring weight and nutrition, administering medicine, and also provide palliative care. They also ensure the safety of your beloved one at home. The caregiver also provides additional help such as providing companionship, taking for the doctor's appointment and social get together and one to one daycare.

Dementia caregivers specialise in providing care to dementia patients. They are well-trained in how to communicate with people having dementia, handle their mood swings and manage problems such as wandering and sundowning. The good thing is they make sure the autonomy of the patient is maintained while he/she simultaneously receive the care.

Dr Jamie Wilson
Founder and Chief Medical Officer at Hometouch
Dr Jamie Wilson is hometouch’s founder and Chief Medical Officer. Jamie’s creation of hometouch was inspired by his work as a dementia psychiatrist in the NHS, and he has written about healthcare issues in The Times and the Evening Standard. Jamie has a MBBS from the University of Leeds and has spent a decade in the NHS, working as a Psychiatric Registrar and Memory Specialist at Imperial College Hospital.