Home Health Aides For Dementia Patients Can Be a Wonderful Thing


Taking care of a parent with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be very challenging and also exhausting for the caretaker. I was many years into it before I realized that I needed the help of a Home Health Aide. I was lucky, the first timeout of the gate with Cardine. She was the first Home Health Aide that was send to help with my mother suffering with dementia. She became my hero very quickly.

When first taking on a parent with dementia, we go through so many different feelings and experiences, that often leaves our heads spinning and feeling frustrated all at the same time. Many of us don’t have a healthcare background or any resources at our fingertips to help us cope and make sense of the situation that unfolds before our eyes on a daily basis. Really, we are flying blindly into the path of the oncoming train, sometimes, not understanding what’s ahead.

When I first took on my mother, after moving into my house from her California apartment, I noticed a few little things, but like we all do, it’s brushed off as “oh, she’s just getting older”. After awhile the symptoms get worse and we know that something is very wrong. After we seek a diagnosis, we start our journey into the unknown with our loved one. Life for your parent will never be the same and for you also. It’s almost like when you become a first time parent, changing your life forever, only this time it’s with an unhappy prognosis.

For years I took care of Mom and we went through all of the different stages that most dementia patients and caretakers go through, paranoia, accusations, hiding their belongings, aggressiveness, depression, sadness, incontinence, denial, lack of interest in daily hygiene, preoccupation in trying to make sense of paperwork, confusion, wandering, getting lost, looking for her mother, loss of words and substitution of words, etc. There were so many more things that I went through with her, and since we are all living individual experiences, I’m sure others have gone through even different things that I know nothing of. My situation with Mom, finally came to a point where I could no longer leave her alone while I was at work because she was a safety hazard to herself and others. That’s when I started researching and got the social workers involved, finally getting on the right track in finding a Home Health Aide for Mom.

mom-cardineIt was a long road to learning what to do in order to get help at home, but through Mom’s doctor, who had earlier applied for the Visiting Nurse Service to come to give her B12 shots every month, I was introduced to the social workers of that organization. Since her condition was becoming a safety issue, we discussed our options through meetings and house calls. Of course, I couldn’t afford to go out and hire a Home Health Aide on my salary, so I was naturally feeling very stressed on how to bring help in. Working was something that I must do in order to survive, it’s not debatable as with so many caretakers in the same situation these days. It’s a huge dilemma for all involved.

Needless to say, we found a way and soon thereafter, Cardine arrived. She was the best thing that had every happened to us since Mom came to live with me. We were so lucky to have her as she was experienced, compassionate, concerned and very good at her job. She was mentally present at all times, always putting my Mother’s best interest first. I was very relieved that we were so fortunate to have found her.

Cardine had 12 hour shifts, 5 days a week making it possible to commute to my job and keep the roof over our heads. She would take care of every need that my Mother had, personal hygiene, meals, bathing, companionship, arts and crafts, interaction and keeping her mind engaged and active. She was a one woman band and a rock star in her profession. While I was at work, I was absolutely sure that my demented Mom was in good hands and also safe at home. She wasn’t lonely, and she was content and well taken care of. What more could I ask for?

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Photos: (1) Cardine on Mom’s 86th birthday, (2) Cardine drying Mom’s hair after a shampoo, (3) Cardine and Mom, Eleanor Van Meter doing puzzles together.

Home Health Aides are a wonderful choice for your loved one.

Bottom line for me, Home Health Aides are a wonderful choice for your loved one. If you can find the right fit through an agency, it will change your world and that of your parent.

 They will make the quality of life for the patient and the caretaker better, giving more time to enjoy with your loved one. If you find yourself in this situation, reach out to a social worker through agencies in your area. Reach out to the Alzheimer’s Association who can advise you further. Call the physician caring for your parent, who can open many doors. Although it may be different for others, In my experience, if you don’t ask them, they won’t offer any open channels for help in the home. You must present your needs and concerns to make it known that it is a safety issue. They will then advise what avenues and options are open to you. There are ways to provide a loved one with a Home Health Aide if you are financially unable.

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5 thoughts on “Home Health Aides For Dementia Patients Can Be a Wonderful Thing

    • Shelly…I first had started with my Mom’s doctor, who put in for the Visiting Nurse Service to become involved under Medicare. They came and interviewed us to assess the situation and to try and get a sense of her needs and struggles. A lot of paperwork was filled out. The doc had prescribed B12 shots for her also because she was low and needed monthly shots and it was too hard to get her out of the house for appointments. From there, the VNS caseworker came by to speak with me, discussing many avenues and options open to us. She told me what I needed to do in order to get her supervised day care while I was at work. My mother had nothing, no house, no money, no assets, so I was advised to get her onto medicaid asap so that we could bring in a home health aide. Because my mother’s situation had snow-balled into an emergency…she was leaving the house and roaming around outside, things moved pretty fast. It wasn’t full medicaid, it was only for healthcare purposes which paid for her doctor visits and tests, medications and any day care or home aide services needed. I would advise you to get a Power of Attorney for whoever you are caring for. You will need that to act on their behalf. That’s the first step…and it’s very important since they cannot realistically speak for themselves.

        • Yes, owning assets could be a problem when trying to get financial help for her. I know that Medicare doesn’t cover Home Health Aides so that’s why, in my Mom’s case, Medicaid came into the situation. In your case, you might want to speak with an elder attorney just so that you can find out the legal facts for your particular state. Medicare does cover situations where skilled nursing care is needed but I sense that is not what your Mom needs. They also fully cover hospice care. You might want to check with her doctor, who might be able to recommend an elder care social worker/councelor. They can be very helpful since they know most of the options out there that might apply to your situation. Some even have in-home consultations. There are also Association Services for the Aged, where you can find a social worker that can shed some light on your options. I had started there, very early on and found them very helpful. By the time that we got the VNS social worker, my mother’s situation had progressed considerably making it an emergency. That’s when things started happening quickly. Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth when trying to find information, but be the squeeky wheel…it’s the only way to get answers. Talk to everyone you know dealing with similar situations with elderly parents, speak with her doctors, research if there are any elder care associations in your area, call you local town hall for suggestions. There are caretaker groups that can share their experiences also. It may take some digging, but there is an answer.

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