It is common knowledge that people with Alzheimer’s disease deteriorate over time, as a patient passes through the mild, moderate and severe stages of the disease. This is what makes the role of a caregiver so important to work tirelessly towards the comfort of the patient as they progress through these stages.
Statistics reveal that almost 15 million Americans offer unpaid care for patients with Alzheimer’s.
While healthcare professionals might fully understand the challenges of taking care of a patient with Alzheimer’s disease, there are certain aspects that will throw every caregiver off balance, as the disease progresses.
With the key theme being that caregivers must take care of themselves first, here are certain things that a full-time caregiver must be cognizant of, so that they can take care of the patient (and themselves) in the best possible way:
#1: Make no mistake – being a full-time caregiver is difficult and stressful. As the patient deteriorates, a lack of cooperation and confusion will be prevalent, and so it is important to prepare for any ‘surprises’ as you move forward.
#2: With not being able to maintain a routine as the disease worsens, dressing, bathing and feeding the patient becomes important especially when the patient has moved to the moderate stage of this disease. As a caregiver, you will have to ensure that all these aspects are taken care of in a gentle, patient and sensitive manner. For example, some patients might be too frightened to bathe, and which is why it is so important to be gentle with them.
#3: Once they’re done with the ‘basics’ such as eating, dressing and bathing, it’s important to keep them active by assigning them simple tasks to do such as help prepare the food, wash the dishes, get the dinner table ready and so on and so forth. Just remember that the simpler the tasks are – the better.
#4: As said earlier, it might not be easy at all in being a caregiver, so it’s a good idea to also locate sources such as an adult day care center or respite services that can help you recharge while not having to worry about whether the patient is being taken care of well or not.
#5: Communication with the patient must be simple, patient and with eye contact. It is recommended to call the person by their name while giving him or her enough time to respond to your question or statement. Express yourself in a positive manner to the patient.
#6: Some of the other issues that caregivers must prepare for are hallucinations or delusions, incontinence, wandering, inability to sleep or the patient not being able to drive. As unfortunate as this is, always remember that in being sensitive to the patient’s needs and with keeping safety first, you can make the life of patient’s much easier.