September 26, 2008

Late Stage Alzheimer's - What We Can Expect

Late stage Alzheimer's disease is scary, but it can help to have information about what to expect.

September 23, 2008

Do You Believe These Myths about Alzheimer’s Disease?

To help an Alzheimer's patient, a caregiver must have patience and a true understanding of what the disease really is. General myths about Alzheimer's disease only add to the stress of an already difficult situation. The more caregivers and family members can learn about this disease, and better recognize the problem, the more effort can be put towards helping the patient.

Let’s consider five common myths about Alzheimer's disease as well as the reality.

Myth: My parent or grandparent has Alzheimer's disease. That means I’ll probably get it too.

Reality: Although genetics can be involved in the disease, only five to ten percent of total cases are actually the direct result of genes. The majority of cases have no definite or identifiable cause. Nothing can explain why Alzheimer’s disease develops or who is sure to inherit it. Even a healthy lifestyle and good diet, while generally a good defense against ill health, is not a sure protection. Alzheimer's disease can affect any person. Understanding this fact can help others to be sensitive to patients’ needs as well as better informed on the reality of this disease.

Myth: I’ve heard there is a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

Reality: While that would be wonderful news, unfortunately there is no cure at this time. There are medications and forms of therapy that can manage the symptoms in some persons. As far as a definite cure goes, researchers continue to look into this disease and remain optimistic.

Myth: What if someone I love develops the disease? What do I do or say? How long do I have to say goodbye?

Reality: Just because someone has the disease does not mean his or her life is over. Many patients continue to live meaningful lives, just like anyone else would, and don’t feel as if their lives are over. They are still able of showing love to family members and finding happiness in the things they do. Medications and treatments are also helping sufferers of the disease to manage. The most important thing to ensure a patient’s comfort and happiness would be to supply good services, pleasant surroundings and willing support.

Myth: I’ve heard stories of nice people becoming violent or at least extremely difficult after getting the disease. Is this true?

Reality: Just as there is no sure explanation of why Alzheimer’s disease develops, there is no sure way to predict how a person will behave because of the symptoms. The disease affects each person in a different way. For patients, the loss of memory and the state of confusion it causes can be a very frustrating experience. It can even be a frightening one, and some patients could react aggressively because of confusion or fear. By learning about the disease, adapting to the patient’s surroundings and changing the style of communication, caregivers and family members can prevent aggressive activity if it ever comes up.

Myth: People with Alzheimer’s disease are insane or unable to understand what is happening around them.

Reality: It is an especially important myth to dispel. There is no way to go over the mindset for the entire population of patients for this disease. Many patients do understand what is going on around them and some might have difficulty. Alzheimer’s disease affects a person’s ability to communicate and make sense of the world around them. But to what extent this is observed in each person is different. Assuming that a patient does not understand what is being stated, implied, or even said to the company of others, is a mistake that can cause misunderstandings or even hurt feelings.

Bear in mind that a person with Alzheimer’s disease is in pain, and deserves to be treated with kindness and respect. He or she is still the same person as before and should always be shown dignity. Believing common myths about the condition rather than learning the reality can only make living conditions trickier. Don’t be satisfied with the myths about Alzheimer’s disease. Get educated. Learn about the disease. Seek help. Learn the best ways to help care for patients. With a little patience and a lot of understanding, caregivers and family members can help to fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

September 19, 2008

Some Important Information About Alzheimer's and Dementia

See this short video about two-part Alzheimer's disease program that meets State requirements for home health personnel in Florida.

September 16, 2008

How to Help Alzheimer’s Patients with Dressing

It is significant when dealing with Alzheimer’s patients to uphold feelings of comfort and safety in every activity. Severely affected patients frequently forget how to dress or may not recognize the need to change clothes. Such mental conditions can leave them emotionally fragile and more physically dependent upon their caregiver, especially as later stages progress. Good care is thus needed in helping a patient through various daily routines, including dressing. Consider some tips that will not only help you in directing support, but will also let the patient feel comfortable and respected.

1. Help the person to look forward to the regular activities of the day, dressing as well as bathing, eating, social interaction, and other daily routines. Speak of the upcoming activities as a highlight of their day, something you are willing to help them with without complaint.

2. Have a positive attitude. A cheerful attitude, even if not always contagious, can go a long way in creating and mending relationships. Many Alzheimer’s patients are still able to read body language and sense the temper as well as the tone of their caregiver’s voice. They respond to the attitudes they observe. A warm and positive disposition will get the best results.

3. Help patients to retain a sense of self-worth and independence. Wherever possible, let the patient take some initiative in dressing him or her self. In primary or moderate stages of Alzheimer’s, a person could still be capable of changing clothes on their own and may just need assistance in laying out the clothing in order or verbal suggestions on which thing should be worn. In progressive stages of disease, an explanation on how to put the clothing may be required or even some physical assistance. In cases where the patient is totally dependent on you as the caregiver to change them, it is a fine idea to give verbal assurances that they are the ones putting forth the effort to get dressed, even though you are helping. Be careful not to let the voice of annoyance, or any strong negative feelings, come through as if it is a burden to help them.

4. Create a harmless atmosphere in the room. This involves allowing adequate time for the patients to dress, not rushing them or creating any unease. In addition to adequate time, make sure the feeling in the room is peaceful and warm. Any startling noises or uncomfortable temperatures could cause discomfort or hurting to the patient. Building stable routines and keeping a familiar atmosphere is very important in caring for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Impulsive or surprising developments are not helpful at this stage in life.

5. Make certain the clothes are comfortable. Whether dressing a patient out of need or assisting him or her to dress, some items of clothing may be difficult to put on. So, it is a good idea to use wide necked tops, baggy trousers and slip on shoes. This not only makes the dressing process easier, but also protects the patient against accidental harm or discomfort. Be sure and draw the person out, getting his or her opinion on the clothing, letting them feel involved in the selection process. The patient’s comfort in this time of difficulty is the main concern.

6. Keep in mind that your patient, no matter how affected by the disease, is still a human being with feelings and self-respect. Even if they don’t seem to respond your acts of kindness, the person deserves to be loved, touched, spoken to and treated kindly. The Alzheimer’s patient is not a child to be disciplined. The patient is suffering from a medical condition and may not be aware of how he or she is behaving. A caregiver needs a lot of tolerance in times of handling personal care. If a patient is treated badly, feelings of rejection, loneliness, grief and pain can arise, even in extreme cases of mind deterioration. Warm and supportive care is important to the patient’s emotional and physical well-being.

These tips will prove helpful in helping Alzheimer patients in dressing. Feel free to write these tips down and adapt them to your own personal style. Many people consider dressing their infirm loved ones as a way of being involved with them, or even a sharing activity. While not each person may see it that way, caring for an Alzheimer’s or dementia patient in personal matters, like dress and grooming, is certainly a demonstration of unconditional love.

September 09, 2008

How to Solve Some Problems Between an Alzheimer’s Patient and a Caregiver (2)

Problem: A caretaker asks a simple question of a patient. The patient delays in answering so the caretaker repeats once more. The patient still waits, and the caretaker decides to reshape the question in simpler terms. The communication deteriorates into conflict.

Solution: It is significant to allow enough time for a response when conversing with an Alzheimer’s patient. Interrupting, or even rephrasing the question, can confuse a person who is trying to process and state how he feels. The most efficient way to get a response is to ask one question at a time and then wait for an answer. Alternatively, if a patient struggles to find a word or express a feeling, kindly suggesting the word he or she is looking for could help. Common politeness in this case would be the best advice.

Problem: A caretaker notices that a patient is feeling opposing to help or consistently depressed. He can’t think of anything impolite or disrespectful he might have done. The patient expresses no concerns when asked if there’s a problem.

Solution: A positive and warm disposition is important to keep when handling an Alzheimer’s patient. Whether it’s merely validating their feelings or acknowledging frustrations, or even joking and singing to get a smile, a patient must understand that you care about them. Try framing questions and especially instructions in a positive way, always mindful of the patient’s comfort.

Problem: A caretaker is tired and stressed out. This attitude seems contagious and begins to influence the patient. The patient refuses to go behind directions and puts up resistance.

Solution: Alzheimer’s disease is not easy on anybody, the patient or the caretaker. It is a complicated situation and much tolerance is needed during this very vulnerable time. If a patient refuses to cooperate, then let him or her say no. You can approach them again later when they are in a better temper. There is nothing wrong with taking a few minutes away from your patient and relaxing. In fact, it is the advisable thing to do in most cases. When you return, you will be feeling better and your patient, maybe in a better mood himself, will be more willing to respond.

Communication between caregivers and Alzheimer’s patients can lead to frustrations. Nevertheless, with patience and a good understanding of what Alzheimer’s patients need in a caretaker, some of these common frustrations can be dealt with.

September 05, 2008

Alzheimer's Patients Say They Are Quite Well

Interviews with Alzheimer's patients indicated that an overwhelming majority are, in fact, perfectly fine.

Yes, Alzheimer's disease is a terrific thing. But let us have some fun...

September 02, 2008

How to Solve Some Problems Between an Alzheimer’s Patient and a Caregiver (1)

Building communication with an Alzheimer’s patient isn’t an easy job. Whether you are a family member or a caregiver, regularly communicating with someone with Alzheimer’s disease is surely going to need patience and understanding. Alzheimer’s disease involves a weakening of the intellectual process, which can disrupt a patient’s ability to speak as well as hear and process information. This doesn’t mean that communication is useless in general. Speaking to and expressing love to an Alzheimer’s patient is still very important. Consider at least some common communication frustrations and the effective way to deal with them.

Problem: A caregiver becomes annoyed that a patient can’t follow what she is saying. The problem only seems to escalate the more the caretaker repeats herself and increases her volume.

Solution: Remember not to use complicated thoughts or ask questions with too many options if you don’t have to. The best way to communicate with a patient is to use short, accurate sentences and simple words. Tone is also very important. A quiet and gentle way of speaking always lets the patient know you are there to help.

Problem: A caregiver simplifies his sentences and speaks affectionately to his patient. But the patient is not responding well and seems to be getting angrier as the conversation goes on.

Solution: Be careful not to oversimplify your statement as if talking to the patient like he or she were a child. You are still speaking to a full grown adult and some patients can pick up on a patronizing tone. The tone of voice should be compassionate, not schmaltzy.

Problem: Two family members are discussing their Alzheimer’s affected relative and his inability to carry out some daily routine. One family member goes over ready to help the patient dress but senses some resistance.

Solution: Just because a person has Alzheimer’s disease, even an advanced state, does not necessarily mean they are unaware to what is happening around them. A patient may hear what others are saying about him.

Problem: A caretaker enters and finds her patient in bed watching television. As she passes by, she tells him they are going out for lunch and that later a friend of the patient will drop by. The patient doesn’t respond and so she quickly moves in closer and repeats herself. The patient seems anxious.

Solution: Extra sound such as the television or radio can be distracting, especially if you are trying to communicate directions. For the best results get rid of any distractions first and try not to make impulsive movements. Move in slowly, standing or sitting in front of the person and making eye contact. Use the patient’s name and make certain you have his or her attention before speaking. This helps the person focus on what you are saying and remain tranquil.