Handling the Hazards of Alzheimer’s Home Care – Part One
If you are the primary caregiver for an Alzheimer’s patient, you face a variety of challenges on a daily basis. Challenges are compounded immensely if the patient is a relative or loved one. One of the ugliest aspects of Alzheimer’s disease is the way it changes your loved one’s personality and behavior. Alzheimer’s changes the way an individual thinks, acts, and reacts to everyday situations. A calm person may become aggressive; a friendly senior might be consumed with paranoia and suspicion.
Preparing yourself for the hazards of Alzheimer’s home care will help you to cope and provide quality care. The following practical suggestions will not only benefit the patient, but you as well.
Learn how to communicate. Speaking to (and understanding) an Alzheimer’s patient is different than any other type of communication. It takes incredible patience and a tough skin. Even if your loved one was once docile and polite, this will not likely be the case as his Alzheimer’s symptoms worsen. Try and remain calm and resist the urge to argue or correct the patient. Often the patient remembers the past much more easily than the present, so you will learn to communicate with him as if you are actually in whatever time period he’s experiencing at that particular moment.
Establish a support system. No one can care for an Alzheimer’s patient all alone. A reliable support system is especially important for families caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s. This can mean back-up caregivers, housecleaners and errand-runners – just to name a few. It’s also highly recommended to join an Alzheimer’s support group – either online or at a local chapter. Fellow caregivers will provide suggestions that will make your life easier, as well as incomparable emotional support.
Make Your Home Alzheimer’s Care Friendly. Modifying your home for an Alzheimer’s patient does not have to be elaborate or expensive. Start by labeling drawers, cabinets, and storage closets so the patient can easily find what she’s looking for. Remove unnecessary clutter and keep all areas well-lit. Keep choices simple for the patient; limiting options makes decisions less confusing. You’ll also want to keep dangerous areas (stairs, exits) locked and off-limits. This is especially important if the Alzheimer’s sufferer is prone to wandering.
Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient is often a learning process that takes constant vigilance. Continuous adaptation to changing behaviors and worsening symptoms is key to coping with Alzheimer’s care. Be sure to check out our next post with more practical suggestions on how to handle the hazards of Alzheimer’s home care.