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Caring for a patient with Alzheimer’s is not easy. The effects of the disease can be stressful on the most calm, empathetic person, but it’s worth remembering that it’s no easier for the patient or their family.
As a caregiver, you need to do all that you can to provide support for Alzheimer's patients. From involving their family in the treatment plan to requiring them to wear medical bracelets at all times, you can help protect them at every turn.
The best thing you can do prior to beginning treatment and showing support is knowing the latest findings on Alzheimer’s. It’s a simple way to get yourself accustomed with the literature surrounding Alzheimer’s disease, as well as knowing coping mechanisms to implement, for the benefit of both you and your patient.
After learning a bit more about the disease, it’s in your best interest to meet with the patient’s family. In all likelihood, you’ll only be caring for an Alzheimer’s patient during certain points of the day. And even if they are being cared for inside of your senior care facility, it’s important that you include their family in the treatment process. They can be especially helpful as it relates to specific quirks of your patient, or by helping to remind them about specific memories.
Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient is not going to be easy. There will be struggles along the way, and you’re sure to get frustrated here and there. No one should fault you for doing so, as you’re just as human as they are. But you should understand that you need to remain patient with them. As difficult as it might be on you, it’s as hard — if not harder — on them.
You need to let them know that you are there for them. A common issue of Alzheimer’s is forgetting names and faces, losing the significance of a person in their immediate life. This is especially true for people they recently met, as their brain does not have a long-term connection to work with. Do your best to remind them why you’re working with them, particularly that you’re here to help. That information can be essential to calming them down, especially if they enter into a state of confusion or agitation.
One of the biggest challenges of Alzheimer’s is wandering — where, in a state of confusion, a patient will become confused and might wander off from home, leading them to amble through public in an agitated, frightful, pained daze. Alzheimer's ID bracelets can help them in the event of wandering, as it provides them with identification.
This can be especially helpful if they’re found by police or other emergency services, as their bracelet can list important information, including:
Emergency services can act accordingly with that information, protecting your patient and returning them to your care following an episode of wandering.
Along with finding ways to keep them mentally active and aware, you should understand the best ways to calm them. A common side effect of Alzheimer’s is agitation, often brought on by states of delusion and confusion. Know the simple things that can help ground them if they are personally struggling. It can not only keep you safe, but it can help prevent them from doing something they might regret.
As with the above, you need to take a breather every so often, for your own health. One of the struggles of being a caregiver is taking your work home with you. We get it. It’s easy to feel like your patients are part of your own family. But you need to care for yourself, too. Doing so will help you remain calm and patient, all while allowing you to return refreshed to your patient every day.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, one which we currently have no cure for. The best you can do as a caregiver is to give them comfort and all-around protection, to the best of your ability. From remaining patient to having them wear an Alzheimer's ID bracelet, you can take minor, daily steps to improve their quality of life as time goes on.