Caring an old-timer with Alzheimer 's

Share your ideas about the practical side of caring.
Hi guys,
I've grown up next to a family. The grand father of that family is now having Alzheimer 's. I've know him since I was little. The family did ask me to be the carer for the grandpa. I couldn't say no because they're so nice.
They said they don't want to send him to a nursing home.
Any tips on caring for an elder with Alzheimer's?
Many thanks!
Hi David and welcome. We've just had a forum upgrade and are struggling to get used to it. Normally several people would have said Hi by now.
There's many posts on dementia in this thread ... s/dementia

Have a good read, it's 'warts and all' realism
Will you be a paid carer? Dementia is a progressive (worsening) condition and whatever help is needed now, more will be in the future. It is rare that one person alone can cope, eventually it takes a team.

Hi David,

Dont worry with your Aging Parent, Here I am going to provide tips to take care for you Elderly Parents.

1.Support from far away relatives.
2.Use public welfare benefits.
3.Organized visits to the doctor.
4.Safety against scams.
5.Exercise and diet.
Hi David,
Think carefully about what you are taking on.
Firstly, the person concerned should have a Needs Assessment from Social Services, who will decide how much care he needs, and arrange a Care Plan and agree a Personal budge with the relatives. Does one of them have Power of Attorney?
You must protect yourself. Don't take payment in cash, it's going to be a proper job.
Before agreeing to care, make sure you make it clear what you can/cannot do. When he has 24/7 needs, he will be beyond the care of one person. What about holidays, time off?
Will you be happy to care until he dies? Toiletting? Soiled bedding? Aggression?
He is entitled to Attendance Allowance, so have the family claimed?

I'm not trying to put you off, just ensure that you know what you are taking on, and are treated well.
David, hi - this is NOT a 'casual decision' to make. It's a very big one, and you must think through all the aspects.

You say the family are 'so nice' that you didn't want to say no. But please do understand that the reason they 'might' be being 'very nice' right now is that they think you will solve their problem for them - ie, that their grandfather can no longer live independently.

So many questions to consider but here are some of them:

Why are THEY not looking after him? Is he living on his own in his house up till now?
WHERE are they (and how many of them are there!) - as in, are they close enough to walk to his house, or have to drive, or hours away, etc etc etc.

Why did they think to ask YOU? (ie, not just because they know you.)

I'm concerned that you may end up being exploited and taken for granted by them. You say they don't want their grandfather to go into a home, and that is understandable.....but it could also be because it is very expensive!

Does the g.father own the house/flat he lives in? Does he have savings do you know? If he does, then he would have to pay for his own care home fees, and these could very easily be up to a thousand pounds a WEEK. This gives strong incentive for him and his family to want to stay at home and be looked after there, instead of moving into a care home.

The family might well be hoping to have him looked after 'on the cheap' (ie, you!) so that when he dies they can comfortably inherit his house thank you very much.

I know this sounds cynical, but alas it could be true.

OK, so if you DO decide to take on his care, what exactly are they asking you to do?

How many hours will you spend in his home, looking after him? Is it supposed to be all day, or just looking in, or cooking his meals, or sleeping there overnight?

As others are warning, dementia is progressive - at some point he will become completely helpless, doubly incontinent, immobile amd non-verbal, and take to his bed permanently. At that point he will either need a team of carers coming in, or be in a care/nursing home, before he eventually dies. I know this sounds very bleak, but so it will be, alas.

The average length of time that someone lives with dementia before they die is something like 8 years, so you really do need to look ahead. I think it's a given that you can't look after him yourself 'until the end'.

You say you 'couldn't say no'.... but is this what you actually WANT to do? What else do you do? What will you NOT be able to do because you are looking after this elderly man? Do you live with your parents next door, or what? Can you continue with your education, a part time 'other job' etc etc. How many years do you want to do this? You MUST be free to tell the family 'OK, I've done it this long, but I'm going to bow out in two months time, so you must make other arrangements'....and do not give in to their 'pleading' for you to stay on!!!!

I think above all you must make clear to his family that this is a JOB, as others are saying. You must be formally employed (whether they like that or not) and you must ensure they take out TWO types of insurance - one that covers YOU in case YOU have an accident in the grandfather's house, and one to cover HIM in case YOU 'cause him an accident'. Remember, if you feel you have to lift him at all, that is dangerous, and needs to be done in a skilled, certain way, or you could injure yourself and possibly him too.

If you are formally employed, as you should be, you will need a national insurance number, and to pay tax/national insurance - this will also protect you against exploitation. If you work longer than, I believe 16 hours a week you are entitled (and must get) a contract of employment. (The carers UK helpline/email is excellent for telling you these things, and setting out what you can and can't do).

Will you be handling any of his money - eg, to buy his food? If so, again, this must be recorded and counted, so you cannot be accused of stealing etc etc. This is to safeguard both you, and him. If he has dementia, then someone in his family has to have power of attorney set up, as soon he will be incapable of handling his own money/paying bills etc (even if he still thinks he can!). Don't take this on until you know this has been set up.

What does YOUR family think of this? You should not do it without their approval, or it can cause dreadful tensions. They will not want to see you exploited or taken advantage of by this family.

Above all, you must not be 'on call' for whenever the man, or his family, want you to be - eg, in the middle of the night, or when they find it convenient to have you go in and 'sort something out'. As an employee you have rights to time off at regular intervals, to have sick pay, holiday etc etc etc.

Please remember ALL the time that what you are paid will be a pittance compared with what they would have to pay (if he is self-funding) in a care home! So you are DOING THEM A FAVOUR. Never forget that!
Research to internet is another way of source. Good luck
David, I have a feeling we've scared you off!

If we have, please, at least, do not ignore these very important points that have been made. What you want to do is doable, but only cautiously, and with strict conditions.

Please don't make yourself 'available' to this family simply because they are 'so nice'......

I hope things are more positive than we fear!

Kind regards, Jenny
David, do come back to us if you have any queries.
GOOD paid carers are really difficult to find, and there is a good future ahead of you if you choose caring as a career. However, some people here have spent years caring for others with little or no financial recognition, only to find that when their carees die, they are penniless and homeless.
It is really important that you see what you propose as a proper job. When I started being self employed, I was very embarrassed about asking for payment, but you need to view things differently. Your care will enable others to achielve what they desperately want, keeping a relative at home, enabling a dream to come true.
Don't let them take you for a ride, intimidate you into a "cash in hand" situation which will come back to bite you at a later date. If you are still not sure, ring round a few of the local care agencies, pretend you have a granddad in need of care, and find out how much they are charging,
Good luck.