With 60 percent of her clientele suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Home Instead Senior Care franchise owner Cathy Murphy recognizes the signs. “The issues that may impact seniors in the early stages of the disease include depression and isolation,” she said. “Soon they might confuse their medications and suffer from lack of nutritious meals followed by poor hygiene. Many family caregivers of these loved ones try to make excuses until the symptoms of Alzheimer’s can no longer be ignored.”
In the past, that’s usually when families had to face the difficult truth that their loved ones no longer could live at home. However, there now exists a marketplace that features memory aids, such as clocks with large faces or notice boards for messages, equipment for eating and drinking, safety devices such as gas detectors and water-level alerts, and mobility aids such as walking frames and wheelchairs.
What’s more the Home Instead Senior Care network, which includes Murphy’s franchise office and is based in Omaha, Neb., has recently rolled out a unique training approach to help family caregivers manage some of the more difficult behaviors of Alzheimer’s disease such as anger, aggression and wandering at home.
There are good reasons to keep seniors with Alzheimer’s disease at home, says Murphy, whose 10-year-old Home Instead Senior Care San Francisco franchise helps older adults stay independent by providing non-medical care and companionship such as meal preparation, light housekeeping, errands and shopping. “In the early to mid stages of Alzheimer’s disease seniors are more comfortable in familiar surroundings and more confident they are maintaining some independence in their own homes where they are more accessible to family.”
The network’s Alzheimer’s or Other Dementias CARE: Changing Aging through Research and EducationSM Training Program employs a technique called “Capturing Life’s Journey” that involves gathering stories and experiences about the senior to help caregivers manage challenging behaviors. Because people with Alzheimer’s disease have difficulty with short-term memory, the Capturing Life’s Journey approach taps into long-term memory to develop activities that can help seniors with the disease manage better.
Murphy is training her Home Instead CAREGiversSM in this approach and soon will make the training available free to family caregivers as well. In addition, she has brought in a geriatric social worker to work with her staff, her CAREGivers and clients in their homes to customize care plans.
“The professional community is surprised,” Murphy noted. “The feedback we’ve received is that this truly is different from anything they have ever seen.”
Kathleen McKay, North America Franchise Development Manager for Home Instead, Inc., said that businesses must be poised to respond to the needs of a rapidly expanding aging population. “Services that help older adults stay at home – where surveys typically say seniors want to remain – must be top of mind if the next generation of seniors has the resources they need to cope with the many changes of aging. A goal of Home Instead, Inc. is to ensure that at-home care and companionship franchises are available throughout North America so that no senior is without the help he or she needs to remain at home. Many opportunities still exist for business owners who want to be that resource.”
“From the demographics we’ve seen, the need for in-home senior care is going to explode,” Murphy said. “We must be prepared to educate and to provide quality care.”