How To Home Care For A Person With Alzheimers
If you have been asked to care for someone that has Alzheimer’s, here are some important tips on how to home care a person with Alzheimer’s. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be very stressful and difficult. The purpose of the following guidelines is to hopefully take some of the stress out of your life and make it easier on both you and the patient.
In addition to a good understanding of Alzheimer's disease, before you take a client in your home you will also need:
- An accessible bed and chairs (you may need to get electric ones to prevent falls)
- Covers for any exposed wires or cords
- A safety lock for the entrance and exit but is easy to unlock for emergencies
- Smoke detectors
- Proper lighting
- Working appliances
- Safety bars in the bathroom and a non-skid mat in the tub or shower
- Non-skid rugs (if you have any loose rugs)
- Sharp objects out of reach
- Make sure the patient will be comfortable. Cupboards should be accessible, as well as a phone available for emergencies. Make sure the water heater is turned down to prevent scalding. Keep floors clutter-free.
- Prepare to be a caregiver. Before the patient comes to your home, you need to educate yourself on every aspect of this condition so you can better understand it. Your role will not only be to do the things expected of a caregiver, like nutrition, medication, doctor and dental appointments, activities and hygiene, it will be to help the patient live as independent and normal a life as possible. While the patient is still able to make decisions, things such as wills and DNRs need to be discussed. You will need patience and caring. Always be sure to take care of yourself and try to live your life as normally as you are able so you don’t suffer from burnout. If you need help at any time, don’t be afraid to ask for it. This job can be very daunting and sometimes an adult daycare may be necessary to give you some relief.
- Establish a daily routine. After your patient arrives, a routine of daily activities needs to be established. Choose activities the patient will enjoy and can understand. Schedule the activities for the time of the day when the patient is at his best. This will keep uncertainty and confusion down to a minimum. Be patient, speak in simple, easy-to-understand language and allow the patient to do as much of his personal care as he is able. Laying out clothes can help him get dressed on his own, but beware of buttons, as they are hard to handle.
- Work on communication. Use friendly expressions and body language and keep eye contact when communicating with the patient. Speak in simple language and be sure he understands you. Encourage him to do his best and give him time to do things for himself. Keep background noise low so the patient can hear what you are trying to tell him. Never speak down to your patient. Use touch and gestures to show acceptance and love. Be patient and try to understand what he is trying to tell you. Above all, treat him with dignity and respect his privacy.
- Dealing with behavior issues. When behavior becomes unpredictable, it is important to deal with it by trying to keep calm. Sometimes medication will be necessary. Keep routines and activities as simple as you can to avoid further confusion. Make sure the patient wears a bracelet for identification in case he wander off. Alzheimer’s patients can get withdrawn, angry and aggressive; having Alzheimer’s is very frustrating. Watch for dangerous situations. Remember safety is first and foremost for both you and the patient.