Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dealing with Alzheimer's Disease

What is Alzheimer's?
Alzheimer's disease (AD), one form of dementia, is a progressive, degenerative brain disease. It affects memory, thinking, and behavior.

Hello my name is Shineka Jones, I have over 10 years experience with working hands on with Alzheimer's patients in health care settings as well as home care settings. Although I have enjoyed working around these amazing people it always breaks my heart to see that daughter or son, grandchildren, the best friend, the church members, the wife or husband, and anyone else who has known this individual before this awful disease came and took them away, my heart truly goes out to them.

Sure, there are many many research sites for Alzheimer's disease. (yeah), they will give you alot of good educated information on the topic, but most of it is just book knowledge. now don't misunderstand, that is a great way to be informed about the issue. But, for those that this is new too, I want this site to help you go thru this transition with the lights on. The reason I say this is because from my experience when this disease enters into the family most of the other family members feel like they are looking down a dark tunnel with no light at the end but I am here to tell you that there is light at the end of that tunnel.

Working with Alzheimer's patients is fun but also very challenging. Just like anyone else they have good days and bad days. Now, keep in mind you are dealing with a person with Alzheimer's and not only can their mood change from day to day but hour to hour, minute to minute, second to second. This is the key that can determine your day! I know what you are thinking; "How can this determine my day?"An Alzheimer's patient mood swings can work against you or for you! For, example if your mom/dad wakes up and does not want to take a shower, or brush their teeth, they become really angry and start to yell and scream... "GET OUT OF HERE, DON'T COME BACK!" try not to get upset because in there mind you are the bad guy right now! The best thing to do is to make sure they are safe, step out and regroup. Give it about 20min, go back and they probably will tell you about the person that just came in there and tried to hurt them and they will be glad that you are there and happy to see you, now you became the hero! The mood swing has worked for you because they don't remember that you are the person that was in there 20min earlier trying to help them get showered and brush teeth. If this happens give yourself a pat on the back because you have succeeded!! I have seen some situation's when it has taken hours just to convince them to walk into the bathroom to get the shower.

If you ever wanted to become an actor or actress here is your time to shine! Say for example, Your loved one sees you he/she says "Hey I am so happy to see you," she /he comes and give you a big huge. You are feeling happy and overjoyed because you have not gotten this reaction from them in a long time and you think to yourself "finally mom/dad is coming around," but once they start to really talk you realize that they are talking to you thinking that you are someone else from there past. maybe they think you are your brother or your sister or an old co-worker or there wife or husband that is deceased and has been for a while. What should you do?
Should you...
(A.) try and tell them that you are not who they think you are. or (B.) Go along with the conversation. Form my experience the best answer would be to go along with the conversation. With an Alzheimer's patient you can sit there all day trying to convince them you are not who they think you are but you will not win you might get them upset and they may not want to see or talk to you at all. So enjoy the moment and enjoy the conversion and the valuable time with them, next time you visit or they see you, mom/dad/husband/wife etc.. just might know who you are. Just remember go along with the moment as long as your love is safe, put your acting skills to the test, (trust me) it will be less stressful for you and it will make them feel good that the person they think you are came to visit them. You just might find out something new that you never knew about your love one before...(LOL)

For those that had to put their love ones in a nursing home don't feel bad or guilty sometimes that is the best place for them and most of the people involved in your love ones care will agree to that as well. Only problem is that your Alzheimer's love one will not always understand. I have worked with some Alzheimer's patent's that everyday they are thinking that they are waiting for there ride to go home, some who pack up there clothes everyday and say they are leaving, I also work with some who think that they are at work, some even think that they are on vacation staying at a hotel. I try to stick with what ever they think where ever they think they are. There will be times you come to visit and your love one lashes out on you because they feel like you threw them away of that you are putting them there to steal all of there money. Try not to take it personal remember it is part of the disease. You know you have their best interest at heart.

Another issue that I see alot with working with Alzheimer's patients is that they have a tendency to plunder thru things rather it be their belongings or someone else belongings. Another one of my true examples! Let's say you brought mom a pretty shirt and you go looking for that shirt and it is gone. The first thing that comes to alot of peoples mind is that (someone stole it!!) This is possible someone could have came and taken mom shirt, but when we are talking about an Alzheimer's patient, it is more likely that mom put the shirt some where else and when you ask her about it she does not remember or she might even tell you that someone stole it and she seen who did it. This could be true but it could also be her remembering something that has happened to her in her past or someone else. STOP!!! rethink the whole situation!! Don't just run with it and blow up take some time to look into what really happened If you have someone caring for mom while your gone ask them about what might have happen to the missing piece, or if mom is in a nursing home ask some of the staff who work closely with her maybe they know something about it. Sometimes another Alzheimer's patient could have went in the room and took it thinking that it is theirs. So many people have came to me in the past and ask "Why do my mom do this? Why do she mess with other people's things? She never was like his before." Don't be alarmed this happens all the time especially if your love one is in a nursing home setting with other Alzheimer's patients. My words to you is to just give it time I can assure you that most times the missing object will appear.

Not being able to remember where they put things is put of the disease. Do not feel bad because your love one is not the only one who does this. Alzheimer's patients think everything belongs to them they are not stealing. Remember to be patient they are not doing this to make you mad or to steal from anyone they can not help it and the disease is slowly taking over their mind.

I hear alot of people say that taking care of an Alzheimer's patient is just like taking care of a baby, in alot of ways it is. Depending on the stage of disease you have to bath them, dress them, groom them, feed them, play and laugh with them. I have done both I am a mother of three and I still say that when dealing with an Alzheimer patient a person needs to have more patients with them than a baby. A baby will one day learn and gain the ability to do things independently an Alzheimer's patient will not. A baby will grow up and will not need you anymore for their basic needs but an Alzheimer's patient will always need you.

Due to the fact I work closely with Alzheimer's patients, I always say to myself "I hope I never get this disease only for the sake of the hurt that it will bring to my family. I guess I can say that one good thing about having Alzheimer's disease if you get it you will never know!
I will put you to the test with helping me prove this. Try to tell an Alzheimer's patient that they have Alzheimer's, most of them will tell you that they don't. Remember that you do not have to go thru this alone the best way in dealing with a love one with Alzheimer's is to get a routine down, stick with it and be consistent.

Thank you
Shineka Jones