This isn't the way you want to see your mother/father/spouse. You never expected that you would be the one who has to help your incapacitated mother take a shower or help your dad put on his underwear. What do you know about buying disposable underwear and bed pads? How do you learn how to make a house safer for a person who is losing their vision or who is in danger of falling? Many family caregivers will eventually face the need to provide personal care for a loved one. During the September 8, 2014 meeting of the Alzheimer's Association caregiver support group at Statesboro First United Methodist, the facilitator will share ideas to make life easier for the patient and the family. Join us at 1:30pm in room 200 Statesboro First Methodist Church. You are welcome!
Consider the many sequential steps involved in getting out of bed, taking a bath, choosing clothing, getting dressed, doing your hair, shaving, grooming, making the bed. Now imagine you had to do all that in the dark in an unfamiliar room and a stranger was telling you to hurry, hurry. The stranger keeps correcting you and then insists that you put on clothing that you do not recognize. This is the world of an Alzheimer's patient in the later stages when he/she cannot trust his senses to give him/her correct information.
A person with increasing dementia doesn't know that they need help. They believe they are putting on a shirt when they are trying to put their pants on over their head, for instance. They are gradually losing the ability to coordinate what they see or hear with reality. Some days the person only needs a little prompting to complete a task, just hand them the toothbrush and they know what to do. Other days, if the caregiver mirrors brushing their own teeth in front of a mirror, the person with dementia will do the same correctly. Then there will be a day when the person with dementia will put the toothbrush in the closet and pick up a sock to brush their teeth. The caregiver must be always aware and alert to see what the patient can do alone and when he needs assistance.
Talking about bathing and diapering an adult family member is uncomfortable. However, there is likely to come a time during this long term illness when someone will need to perform these tasks. Many times you can start by only helping the person get started (hand them the washcloth with soap on it) and other times, you will need to wash their body parts for them. A handout with ideas for helping with personal care will be available during the meeting or by contacting the Alzheimer's Association at 1-800-272-3900.
The "Caring Closet", offers dementia patients five items for incontinence free of charge once a month. A family caregiver can come by Pittman Park Methodist Church Friday mornings from 9:30-1:30pm and get a form, take it to their physician (or ask the Alzheimer's Association to fax it to the physician) who will confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or dementia and then can receive supplies once a month.
Night time incontinence and problems buttoning shirts, zipping pants, using eating utensils all seem to come around the same time in Alzheimer's Disease. As the person begins to lose the ability to interpret what he sees, hears, feels and touches correctly, he/she typically becomes very dependent on one person and wants to hide the fact that he needs help.
Warning...If there is a sudden change in a person's abilities, personality, speech or if they are having hallucinations, be sure to consider that it might be a urinary tract infection; especially if there is a high temperature or if they complain of pain upon urination and take the person to the physician with a urine sample if possible.
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