How Caregivers Can Be a Voice for Clients with Cognitive Decline, Memory Loss Concerns

How Caregivers Can Be a Voice for Clients with Cognitive Decline, Memory Loss Concerns | HealthLeaders Media

Caregivers at personal home care agencies can serve as liaisons between patients and family members to address Alzheimer’s disease and symptoms.

More than six million people aged 65 and older currently live with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new report by the Alzheimer’s Association.

The report, published in March, found that oftentimes, individuals with concerns about cognitive decline and memory loss don’t mention them to their physicians.

That’s why it’s important for agency owners to train their caregivers to watch for signs of cognitive decline in clients. Because caregivers work closely with clients, helping them with personal tasks like cooking, getting dressed, and bathing, they should be on the lookout for any changes—even slight ones—in a client.

Caregivers can serve as liaisons between agency owners and patients, and between patients and family members about cognitive changes they see.

Jeffrey Franck, senior vice president and general manager of operations of AccentCare, a personal home health and hospice care provider, said it’s vital that caregivers regularly update their office team about a patient’s significant behavioral changes.

This not only helps to keep everyone informed, but also helps facilitate effective coordination of care for the patient,” he said.

“Additionally,” Franck said. “Emphasize the importance of maintaining open and honest communication between all parties involved in the patient’s care plan to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working together towards the best care for the patient.”

Training caregivers as liaisons to family members of the patient can also help reassure the family that while managing cognitive changes can be difficult for everyone, resources and support are available.

Franck added it’s important that when caregivers initiate difficult conversations with families that they express empathy, sensitivity, and compassion, while also being as factual as possible.

“Providing the best possible care for Alzheimer’s disease requires conversations about memory at the earliest point of concern and a knowledgeable, accessible care team that includes physician specialists to diagnose, monitor disease progression and treat when appropriate,” Maria C. Carrillo, PhD, chief science officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, said in a statement.