LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A new report on Alzheimer's disease stresses the need for increased support and funding for caregivers. Help is available at home for families taking care of a loved one with this progressive disease.
Family photos are special treasures for Cathi Slade, of Lake Charles, the youngest of 10 children. The pictures show Cathi's dad, Gordon "Sarge" Stickell, growing older - but it was his last few years with dementia that saw him change the most.
"He fell down the stairs and then another time he drank his after shave, thinking it was mouth wash," said Cathi.
Cathi says that was tough to see and the burden of care fell on the family's shoulders. That is the same story for families across the United States as 70 percent of people with Alzheimer's live at home.
"It's exhausting dealing with someone that has dementia," said Cathi, "because you have behaviors like they ask the same questions over and over again. And then also, their sleep patterns get messed up and when you are ready to sleep, they are awake."
Sarge eventually went to live in a true Alzheimer's care facility in Oberlin when his behavior was too dangerous.
"Had we had some help, someone who could come in the home and take care of dad 24 hours a day," said Cathi, "then we probably wouldn't have put him in a facility."
That was in the 90s for Cathi's family and a lot has changed since then. George Cestia with Home Instead Senior Care in Lake Charles says that help is now available inside your home.
"It can be general companionship to meal preparations," said Cestia, "medicine reminders, transportation to the grocery store, to the doctor, to the mall."
This help is specially-trained in daily living tasks for someone with Alzheimer's, including personal care when bathing and eating becomes a fight.
"It doesn't get better," said Cestia, "it's only going to get worse and many times it leads into a situation where you just can't care for that person at home."
After Cathi's dad passed away, she knew she wanted to help other families in her shoes. She now works at Home Instead, training caregivers and sharing free resources, like the "Alzheimer's & Other Dementias Care Companion" app.
"It has several helpful categories, the behaviors and situations, emotional support and resources and kits," said Cathi.
There are also free caregiver resource guides that help families navigate through the disease with their loved one, safely at home as long as possible.
"It can relieve a lot of the stress that the family is under," said Cathi, "I know it would have for us."
To download the free caregiver app, click here. You can get your free caregiver kit by calling Home Instead at 337-480-0023.