Friday, November 23, 2012

10 Tips for the Caregiver of the Alzheimer's Patient

The once vivacious individual that you always knew is still there-somewhere. The problem is that it may only be for a fleeting moment and eventually not really be there at all, in mind or spirit.

Is it hard for them as well? Do they fully understand what is happening?

Some doctors say that Alzheimer patients have a hard time coping and that they understand that things will only get worse and others have the opposite opinion,I guess that we will never really know for sure.

The one that suffers the most is the caregiver, family member and friend; it is not easy to watch how this once wonderful coherent person has become lost.

We find brochures, information and pamphlets on the subject to help us along and it is a comfort to know that we are not alone. There are support groups, both locally and on the internet that give us the boost that we need to go on, which is a comfort.

The only problem is that all of this information tells us how to do the caregiving for the patient but neglects to tell us how to take care of ourselves.
Frustration, anger, impatience and exhaustion all take over at times and then we feel guilty. This my friend is called over work. You need a break and fast!

Whether that break is just a little trip to a local restaurant to give you time to relax, a trip to the beauty shop or maybe just a long hot bath without feeling guilty, you NEED this and deserve it.

Get rid of the guilt and consider it part of 'your' therapy for life and wellness.

If it means having someone come in and getting help for that short amount of time, so be it; maybe you can get the help of a neighbor, family member, home care group, office on aging, or a Alzheimer's Support Group. I hope that this way it won't cost you anything and you can take advantage of it more often.

Keep in mind that your local Vocational School also has students that are going to school to become CNA's, nurses, day care providers and teachers and welcome the chance for hands-on experiences; you may also get help here.

There are 10 Warning signs of dementia, according to Jacqueline Marcell the author of the book Elder Rage, or Take My Father... Please! How to Survive Caring For Aging Parents, and an outspoken advocate for Alzheimer disease education and awareness.

The ten signs are:
Recent memory loss that affects job skills
Difficulty performing familiar tasks
Problems with language
Disorientation of time and place
Poor or decreased judgment
Problems with abstract thinking
Misplacing things
Changes in mood or behavior
Changes in personality
Loss of initiative

Statistics say that about 75% of Alzheimer's patients are being taken care of at home, but is the family really ready to take on such a huge job?

The most important ingredient is 'education;' keep yourself well informed of what it is that will take place and don't feel guilty if you find that you can't handle the situation.

It would make more sense to make sure that our loved one has the care they need and deserve than to cause them more traumas in their lives.

It isn't that you are 'putting them away' it is that you are caring enough to make sure that they are safe and have the BEST care.

Tips that can help the caregiver and the patient survive without frustration;

1. Try to simplify things for them. The disease progresses and so the amount of concentration diminishes. This makes it hard for them to cope with so the frustration slips in, they get upset, you get upset and it makes things worse for everyone.

2. Give them a feeling that they are still of use for as long as possible. Let them dust the furniture, no it might not be the best, but is that the purpose? No, it is to make them have a feeling of purpose and usefulness.

It isn't any different than when a child wants to 'help', it is usually more of a mess than if you didn't do it at all, but it is a way of teaching the child for their well-being. Here you are giving the patient a feeling of accomplishment and self-worth; for their well-being.

3. If they can still get dressed by themselves, let them, when it comes to the closing buttons and zippers, tell them that you want to feel like you are doing something for them, like they have always done for you, so to 'let you help them now'.

The glow in their eyes will be worth it, it is filled with love, appreciation, acknowledgment and pride.

4. Keep other people informed of the progress of the patient and make their visits a good experience for both of them.

People tend to draw back from visiting because they don't know what to say to the person, if the patient understands what they are saying or for that matter how they will react if something is misunderstood and if the patient will recognize them.

Put people at ease by explaining how the patient will react and that it is important for their minds to remain active. In addition, it will give you outside contact that will help your mental outlook as well.

5. As gifts for yourself, whether it be for Christmas or your birthday, ask for gift certificates for things you may not want to spend the money for. A meal out, a trip to the beauty shop, a certificate to go to the movies, an hour's worth of time to stay with the patient to give you a break are all things that you will cherish on those frustrating days.

6. Let the sunshine in the windows and it fashion coats online will give both of you a better outlook. Nothing is worse than to be tired and worn out and then has the house look gloomy too.

Hang some plants to give color, put sheer curtains on the windows to lighten the room, a fresh coat of paint on the walls and maybe some pillows with bright or pastel colors will help to brighten every ones outlook.

7. Confrontations occur on a daily basis because the patient doesn't like change in routine or what they believe to be a routine. Rather than to say,

"We are doing it this way now" or "Let's just get this done" it is better for both of you if you have a plan.

Get a notebook and label each page with something that you do on a regular basis such as, Take a Bath, then number it and write down the steps that are taken when it is time for a bath.

1) get clean clothes ready,
2) run water in the tub or shower,
3) getting shaving things ready,
4) get pretty smelling powder ready or after shave etc.

This way the routine is set, they can see it is something that will not change. If something needs to be changed, show them the list and tell them, you need to add or subtract something, where would they like to see it change.

This way it becomes their decision too and a lot less stressful on you.

8. Rest; make sure that you get plenty of rest! Care giving is a frustrating, mental and physical energy drainer not to slight the amount of organization that it takes to have everything run smoothly.

If you aren't well rested, your body will eventually want to shut down. It will tell you that it has had enough, make every frustrating thing seem like it is 10 times worse and it will get sick; the last thing that anyone wants to happen.

Make sure that you take care of your body and it will take care of you!

9. Make a couple of different photo albums, small ones that only hold a few pictures.

This could be, Grandkids, Children, A Favorite Trip, Sisters and Brothers,etc. Then label all of the pictures with the persons name and what relationship they are. The patient will use this as a guide when they 'need to remember' and you can use it as a guide to help them remember people and places or before a visitor comes over to help to refresh their memory.

Plus, it is something that you can do together to pass the time and relive memories (for both of you) of days gone by.

10. Label items in a room so they can remember the names of things. A lamp, shoes,the Closet, slippers this way when you say to put on your shoes, they will know where to look for them.

Keep everything in the same place so they are used to walking right to the item. Rearranging a room has become a thing of the past because the Alzheimer's patient has to live mostly by repetition so they don't get confused.

However, if they know that they are helping you 'organize' things, they are willing to go along with the idea.

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