Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s Disease
Christine Browning, R.N.
Alzheimer’s Disease is a condition that doesn’t just affect one individual but the entire family including those tasked with caregiving. Aside from the pain the individual is going through, his/her family has to deal with the grief and difficulty of watching someone they love suffer and decline. As a home care expert, your responsibility is to assist the patient and family any way you can. Here are some tips.
Take Care of Yourself
If you have ever talked to someone who cares for a patient with dementia, Alzheimer’s or other conditions, one of the first things they will tell you is to take care of yourself too. This is a stressful job and you won’t be of any use to the patient if you’re ill. Watch out for your health, get support and respite so you’ll be able to perform your duties. It isn’t just the patient or family that needs support, because you do.
You should not feel guilty about caring for yourself or taking some time off from your duties as home care specialist. One of the most difficult things for a home care specialist to do is admit they need to take care of themselves. If you find this difficult to do, remember that the care you give yourself is the care you’ll be giving to your patient.
Learn about Alzheimer’s
Elderly care will be less stressful if you’re knowledgeable about Alzheimer’s Disease. Learn as much about AD as you can and your role as a home care specialist will be more manageable. You should talk to the patient’s doctor and do research on your own. Most of the time you’ll be caring for someone with AD in the early or middle stages so don’t worry about the advanced stage now.
Talk to Other Professional Home Care Aides
One of the ways to handle this situation is to speak with other professionals who take care of patients with AD. You can get in touch with them on the Internet or your local community. One of the most challenging aspects of Alzheimer’s Disease is differentiating between Alzheimer’s and the patient, especially if he or she is a loved one or family member.
During the early stages of the disease it is easy to think that he or she is doing these things out of spite. This can lead to resentment and anger towards the patient, but you have to remember it isn’t them; it is the disease that causes them to behave that way.
Get Emotional Support
Families dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease often seek emotional support because it is a gut wrenching experience, both for them and the person that is afflicted with the condition. This should not be limited to family members as home health aides need it too. With proper support, you will be in a better position to deal with the situation and what to expect.
During the early stages of AD, the person diagnosed may refuse to accept their condition, and as a home care aide you mustn’t get frustrated with this. You can obtain emotional support from professional counseling or family members. Either you need to have a support system that grows and evolves with you.
Set Up a Daily Routine
Talk with the family about setting up a daily schedule. This will cut down on confusion and make the challenges less difficult to deal with. Those with Alzheimer’s can still follow schedules so take advantage of this. For important tasks like doctor’s appointments, bathing etc., schedule this when the person is most lucid.
Get the Individual Involved
You should also give the person with Alzheimer’s sufficient time to do what they want and don’t hurry them. If it’s still the early stages and they show signs of being capable, let the person do as many tasks as they can with as little assistance as possible. Whether it’s dressing without help, setting the table or so on, you might be surprised at how much they can still do.
Caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s Disease undergo a lot of stress and that is understandable, but you don’t have to give in. There are ways to deal with it and ease your tasks without shying away from your responsibilities.
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