Handling the Hazards of Alzheimer’s Home Care – Part Two
Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient is never easy, but there are certain steps you can take to be successful. If you read our last post, you already understand the importance of effective communication, a reliable support system, and modifying your home to be Alzheimer’s care friendly. Read on for three more time-tested tips.
Learn to effectively manage anger or aggressive behavior. One of the most difficult aspects of Alzheimer’s disease is the negative effects it has on the senior’s personality and behavior. While creating a calm environment goes a long way in managing the stress that results in aggressive behavior, there are several things you can do when the senior experiences an emotional outburst. Don’t confront the patient or try and discuss his behavior. The Alzheimer’s sufferer cannot reflect on (or fully understand) his unacceptable behavior, so you will likely only make things worse. Try distracting him with a fun activity or a walk outdoors. If all else fails, and the individual is not hurting himself, let the aggression play itself out.
Keep a regular sleep schedule. It’s very important that the Alzheimer’s patient get sufficient rest and has a consistent bedtime and wake time schedule. Disorientation at dusk, often called “sundowning,” is common among Alzheimer’s sufferers. You can reduce nighttime restlessness by increasing physical activity during the day, limiting napping, restricting caffeine intake, and making sure the patient’s bedroom is as comfortable as possible. If the patient gets up in the night to use the bathroom and then has trouble falling back asleep, place a portable commode next to the bed. The fewer steps the senior has to take to relieve himself, the easier it will be to get back to sleep.
Take good care of yourself. Caring for yourself is as important as caring for the Alzheimer’s patient. Without proper nutrition, regular exercise, and adequate rest, caregivers are vulnerable to stress, illness, and burnout. Alzheimer’s home care is incredibly taxing – not only physically but emotionally as well. Your health should be a top priority; not something that gets pushed to the back burner. If you don’t care adequately for yourself, you will not be in any position to provide quality care to your loved one.
As Alzheimer’s progresses, you may find it increasingly difficult to provide home care. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to seek additional help or an alternative form of care. There are a variety of specialized facilities that are equipped to care for Alzheimer’s patients, and you should not feel guilty if this becomes the best choice for your family.