Taking Care of an Alzheimer's Patient

Carol RoachStarred Page By Carol Roach, 4th Jun 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>General Health>Wellness

Since people are living longer in North America, the issue of care-giving is topical. This series will examine some of the issues and provide some tips for family and home caregivers.

Introduction

Of course it will take a visit to the doctor to decide what is normal and what is abnormal when it comes to memory loss. The doctor will determine the cause and the severity of the condition through different diagnostic tools such as MRI and DNA testing for urine and blood samples.

However, the guardians or adult children still do have to determine when it is time to take their aging parent for that first check up. Usually an indication would be to consider what is normal for everyone. For example, it is normal to forget a brand new telephone number, but is not normal to forget a phone number you have been dialing everyday for over 30 years.

It is normal to occasionally misplace an item, but it is not normal to misplace everything all the time. It is not normal to forget you just had your dinner 5 minutes ago nor is it normal, not to recognize your spouse or children. Forgetting to turn off the stove is a serious concern, just as leaving the home forgetting to change from your pajamas to street clothes.

These strange behaviors are indicative of a memory deficit. Once again, should these abnormal types of memory loss surface, make sure you bring your loved one in for the various tests such as CAT Scan, MRI, DNA test, verbal memory tests and more.

Ways of Dealing with Alzheimer's Behaviors

Ways of Dealing with Alzheimer's Behaviors

Being a caregiver for an Alzheimer's patient is not always easy, it doesn't matter if there is a genetic DNA test relationship making you a family member or you are a nurse caring for a patient, either way it is still difficult. Alzheimer's patients require a lot of care and attention and they can be taxing on one's nerves especially after a long hard day.

Often Alzheimer's patients cannot communicate. They cannot tell you what is on their mind, but we can learn to read the behaviors and try to understand them better.

Alzheimer's affects the functioning of the brain. When fatty deposits called plaque clog the neurons in the brain, brain cells die and these individuals loses memory, thinking processes, and communications skills. Brain scans and a DNA testing can in some cases confirm the presence of Alzheimer's. The DNA laboratory technicians search for the Alzheimer's Familial (AD) gene mutation in cases where there is a family tie and early onset. While in late onset Alzheimer's they look for the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE) to determine if the disease is present.

What happens in this disease is that the patient becomes confused and disoriented. Sometimes they are very frustrated, though they no longer are capable of expressing their emotions or verbalizing their needs.

How to interpret behavior and help the Alzheimer's patient:

How to interpret behavior and help the Alzheimer's patient:

Restlessness and agitation

Restlessness and agitation is often a result of boredom. Alzheimer's patients would require something to do. Provide an activity to occupy their mind based on their level of functioning. For example reading to them or putting on music will ease their restless tension. However, also note if the restlessness is due to too much stimulation such as a big family gathering. You may want to medicate (but sparingly do not over medicate just to make your life easier) or you can suggest a nap or remove the family from your aging parent or patient with Alzheimer's.

If you find that your loved one or patients are constantly following you around, this could be an indication of boredom and it could also indicate a lack of security; a feeling you will abandon them. What you can do is talk to the patients in a calm soothing voice. Even if they cannot respond, they are listening, If you can engage them in an activity that you yourself are doing such as putting away groceries or setting the table allow them to help. Also, stick to your routine; any changes can cause the patients to panic. Reassure them that you are not leaving them, or if you must leave the house, or go home after your shift is over let them know that you are coming back.

Rapid mood swings

Again the patients may be agitated by over stimulation, Remove that stimulus, such as children arguing or demanding attention from them. Talk calmly to your aging parent or Alzheimer's patient.

Do not shout or argue, if you sense frustration, help your loved ones or patients do the activity that they are having difficulty with, gently stroke them or hold their hands.

Demonstrate how you are there for them.

Also consult with their doctor about these moods swings and possibly adjustment for medications.

Not wanting to bathe

Many Montreal care givers sometimes have a real struggle trying to get their loved ones to bathe.

Alzheimer's patients may refuse to bathe and this could be for several reasons.

Social graces are not a priority for people suffering from brain damage.
They may have felt they already had their bath and they do not need another one.
The bath may be a very scary place where they feel insecure in the bathroom alone.
They may fear they will slip and fall or fear that the water is too hot.
They may also be ashamed of exposing their naked bodies.

As a caregiver you will need to make sure that they do bathe on schedule. You may go into the bathroom and help them to bathe, and make the experience as comfortable as possible. You can offer to wash their back and give them a gentle massage. You may have to install a bar or bath chair for them, and you can hold a towel up in front of them when they get out of the bath so that they do not feel so exposed.

Agnosia

Due a condition known as agnosia, it is quite common for Alzheimer's patients to fail to recognize familiar faces, places and things. Their eyes no longer see what the average person sees. Loved ones can be perfect strangers to them.

What you need to do as a caregiver is to stay calm, gently explain who you are; however, do not belabor the point. Try to explain to them what the actual place is that they are visiting, or the object they are viewing, or reintroduce the person standing right in front of them.

Do not get frustrated when they seem to understand only to forget again 5 minutes later. Try to surround them with as many still familiar things, so that they maintain a sense of security and slowly introduce some things from the past in order to jog their memory.

All photos taken from the public domain

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Tags

Alzeheimers And Memory Loss, Care Giver Stats, Care Givers, Care Giving, Caregiver, Caregiver Services, Caregivers, Caregiving, Family Caregivers, Home Care, Homecare, Memory Loss

Meet the author

author avatar Carol Roach
Retired therapist and author of two books, freelance writer, newsletter editor, and blogger. I write, health, mental health, women's issues, animal , celebrity, history, and SEO articles.

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Comments

author avatar Kingwell
6th Jun 2015 (#)

Great share. Blessings.

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