September 14, 2009

Alzheimer’s Homes Safety: How to Keep your Patient Safe at Home

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive illness that will more and more affect a patient’s brain. The centers most affected are those of memory, sound judgment, communication, and decision-making. While slow at the onset, the illness will build momentum, and it is not unusual for the patient to eventually need round the clock care. Many a time a family member or friend will take on the role of initial caregiver to permit the patient to live with dignity and to enjoy life to the fullest extent possible before having to enter a resident care facility.

If you find yourself in the position of caregiver, please note that this can be one of the most rewarding experiences you may ever encounter. Additionally, it will permit you to make your loved one’s life more enjoyable and worth living than other alternatives may be able to do. Yet in order to keep your loved one safe, especially as the illness progresses, it is important to remember that there are a few steps you will need to take to make your loved one’s home a safe and secure haven for her or him.

Here are some tried tips and tricks that will help your loved one to remain safe at home:

- Very often those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease will become confused and get lost very easily. At the onset of the disease, this may be an infrequent problem, but it is quite possible that the frequency of periods of confusion will increase. Thus, if your loved one has a dog for which she or he cares, accompany her or him on the daily walks. As time progresses and her or his mobility decreases, consider hiring a reliable neighborhood kid or even a professional service that will come and walk the pet for your loved one.

- If your loved one enjoys gardening, be sure to help out. You may wish to install a sturdy garden gate that will prevent her or him from wandering off and getting lost. Similarly, the application of garden chemicals and maintenance that involves dangerous tools should be done either by you or a professional gardener as time goes on.

- Purchase a medical ID bracelet for your loved one and make sure he or she wears it. This way, if the patient gets confused and wanders away from the home, identification is possible when a neighbor or the police pick up her or him.

- Collect all household chemicals and poisons and keep them in one locked cabinet. As the illness progresses, your loved one may be confused with respect to hazardous substances and may not remember which materials are dangerous if ingested. By keeping these chemicals under lock and key you will avoid accidental poisonings.

- You may further aid your loved one in preventing accidental poisonings by monitoring her or his intake of medications. By parceling the pills into weekly sorting strips you will be able to keep track of which medication need to be taken at what time. This will help you and your loved one to make sure that all pills are taken according to the doctor’s instructions. ...

Read more: Alzheimer’s Homes Safety: How to Keep your Patient Safe at Home

September 09, 2009

Home Care Solutions for your Loved One

Your loved one has been diagnosed with a serious illness and you have decided to take care for her or him at home. Depending on your loved one’s illness and its severity, as well as the prognosis for future decline, you will have a tough road ahead of you, yet with some planning, ample help, and smart usage of the community resources available to you, this experience will be rewarding to both you and your loved one. In addition to the foregoing, you will be able to supply the dignity, quality one on one care, and whole-person care that your loved one would not be able to receive in an institutional setting.

Here are four tried and true tips to make the most of your loved one’s care at home and ensuring in the process that her or his quality of life is preserved to the maximum amount possible:

1. Plan activities. The mistaken mental picture of many about care giving in the home is that of the loved one lying in a big bed resting. This may be true for a portion of the time, but not on a consistent basis. As a matter of fact, you and your loved one will be able to enjoy many activities together! Not only do these activities help your loved one to preserve a sense of self-esteem, but they will also provide something to look forward to. Obviously, you will want to make sure that you engage in activities that your loved one is physically capable of enjoying while also being of interest to her or him. For example, if your loved one loves to go to the mall, you may wish to plan such outings frequently. Many times wheelchairs may be rented, and you may spend a rather enjoyable day window-shopping. Of course, if she or he does not enjoy this kind of activity, such an outing would do nothing to make the day fun. Find things you and your loved one both enjoy and then plan on doing them together as often as possible.

2. Depending on the illness of your loved one, there are times when her or his mental faculties may diminish. For example, an Alzheimer’s sufferer, or any other patient who suffers from a form of dementia, will experience a decrease in the ability to effectively communicate. At first you may realize that your loved one is searching for the correct word, but later on she or he may have trouble with keeping focus or following her or his train of thought. In times like these it is important to be prepared and keep the conversations easy and without frustrations. You may wish to use shorter sentences yourself, only convey one idea per sentence, keep good eye contact, smile encouragingly, and allow your loved one the time she or he needs to communicate her thoughts. ...

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August 31, 2009

Care for Caregivers: Knowing When to Take a Break

Caregivers are a blessing for the patient who is no longer able to perform many of the daily tasks of life for him or herself. In addition to the foregoing, the services of a dedicated caregiver will become more and more important as an illness progresses and further impairs a patient’s ability to manage even the simplest aspects of daily living. Yet while caregivers are such important people, they have a lot more to deal with than meets the eye.

Considering that many caregivers are close family members, oftentimes grown up children caring for their parents, the change in the parent child relationship is quite often devastating for the caregiver. It is indeed hard to look at a parent whose health is failing, who is no longer able to care for her or himself, needs help with feeding and perhaps even toileting, and then remembering the strong individual this person used to be. Sometimes grown children are not ready for this transition and wish it were progressing slower, or are simply afraid of the inevitability of the patient’s fate. Of course, the patient, very often the parent, may not be ready for this transition in the parent-child relationship either, and in addition to the physical and metal impairments may experience severe emotional distress that finds no outlet but against the caregiver.

As you can see, these care giving situations are a potential breeding ground for anger, frustration, discord, and great emotional upheaval, and there are times when a caregiver literally needs a time-out. Yet how will you know when to take a break? Here are four tried and true tips that will help you to ascertain when it is time to step back for a breather.

1. If you find that emotionally or physically your well being is beginning to suffer, it is time to take a break. For example, if you suffer from health challenges yourself but have them under control, yet suddenly they flare up worse than ever before you know that your role as caregiver is beginning to affect your health. Similarly, if you suddenly realize that you are suffering from a bout of depression or clinical anxiety, or if you find your relationships with others marred by withdrawal, irritability, or sudden angry outbursts, you know that it is time to step back. Obviously you cannot do away with your care giving, yet this may be the time to either find a support group that will allow you to channel and vent your anger in a safe environment, or perhaps you may wish to find a relief caregiver who can come in when you need a break. Ideally, these two combined will help you preserve your emotional and physical health. ...

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August 24, 2009

Safety Issues to Consider for Dementia and Alzheimer’s Patients

Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia, which slowly and progressively reduces the patient’s ability to care for her or himself. More and more dependent on caregivers, the patient will not only experience memory loss but also the inability to make sound judgments. What she or he would have previously recognized as a dangerous situations, no longer holds the same value judgment, and very often Alzheimer’s patients have grievous and even life threatening, accidents.

Caregivers are able to avoid many such accidents by observing a number of safety rules and suggestions. The top seven safety issues to consider when dealing with a loved one who suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are as follows:

- Please remember that Alzheimer’s patients oftentimes get disoriented. They tend to wander off, oftentimes with a specific location in mind, yet somewhere along the way they either get lost or forget the location for which they are headed. Adding to this the suspicions that sometimes take hold of the patient’s mind, they rarely stop to ask for help. For this reason it is best that you, as the caregiver, are able to monitor the comings and goings of your loved one. For example, this may mean having to relocate deadbolts and door locks out of reach toward the top of the doors. There are also doorknob covers available that will prevent a round doorknob to be turned by someone who does not know how to work the contraption. If your loved one lives on a busy street, this may very well save her or his life.

- Confine hazardous liquids, such as cleaners, paints, or garden chemicals, in one or two locations and keep these cabinets locked. An Alzheimer’s patient may not remember that certain substances are poisonous and may mistakenly ingest some. Again, there are some great products out there for childproofing such areas, and perhaps it may not be a bad idea to do so.

- Avoid accidental poisonings by helping your loved one to take her or his medications. Overmedicating is often a cause for accidental poisonings since the patient will not be able to remember whether or not she or he has already taken the daily dose of the pills prescribed. For the remainder of the time, keep the medications out of reach for your loved one.

- While you want to give your loved one as much as space as possible, you still want to make sure he or she is safe even in your absence. Yet forgotten toaster ovens, irons, or coffee makers may present severe burn hazards. There are automatic shut off devices available for these appliances, and it may be worthwhile to invest in some of them.

- Another important aspect of safety for Alzheimer’s patients is the prevention of falls. Very often this may be accomplished by adding lighting to stairwells, and overall areas of the home that previously were a bit dark. Obviously, you don’t want the light to be glaring, yet some well placed additional lights that help your loved one to safely navigate stairs or the entry way are appropriate. Similarly, you may wish to install some nightlights in the outlets throughout the home to add some light even at night so your loved one will be able to easily find the light switches. ...

Read more: Aging Caregiver and Safety Issues to Consider for Dementia and Alzheimer’s Patients

August 19, 2009

How to Handle Incontinence in Alzheimer’s Patients

Alzheimer’s disease is a much feared illness in part because it is still incurable, but in part also because it reduces active, healthy adults who are accustomed to their independent lifestyles to suddenly become dependent on others not only for assistance with such tasks as shopping and house cleaning, but even such intimate aspects of living as feeding and even toileting. Incontinence - while sometimes a normal aspect of aging - may be a hugely embarrassing aspect of this illness to someone who suffers from the gradual diminishing of her or his faculties; more often than not it is perceived as adding insult to injury. Caregivers as well often have a hard time seeing the gradual mental as well as physical decline of their loved one as the disease progresses.

There are a number of steps a caregiver can take that will help both her or him as well as the loved one take this new hurdle of incontinence in a stride, and with a bit of preparation and know how, the embarrassment may be reduced and a feeling of dignity will be preserved for the patient. Here are five suggestions to make this process easier:

- The urge to use the bathroom propels us to excuse ourselves from activities and go in search of these facilities. Unfortunately, when a loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, she or he will sometimes not recognize this urge anymore. She or he may literally forget to use the bathroom prior to leaving the house or during activities. This will then result in embarrassing episodes of loss of bladder or even bowel control. Knowing that this is part and parcel of this disease, the caregiver should purchase adult incontinence products, such as adult briefs, that will help to reduce the occurrence of embarrassing public moments. Be certain that your loved ones has the products easily accessible and knows how to put them on. Similarly, it will not hurt to have a couple of spares in your purse when accompanying your loved one to go shopping or on other errands.

- While at home, make sure that your loved has easy access to the bathroom. This means that it is only a few short steps from her or his bedroom to the bathroom, and it also means that you, as the care giver, ensure that your loved ones dresses in such a manner that clothes may be removed quickly and easily when visiting the bathroom. There are many attractive clothing options available for patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and none of them have cumbersome buttons, snaps, drawstrings or zippers that make using the bathroom harder than necessary. ...

Read more: Alzheimer’s Help: How to Handle Incontinence in Alzheimer’s Patients