Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient is extremely challenging. The Alzheimer’s patient’s mood and levels of ability will change each day. They forget the basic concept of caring for themselves in such things as dressing, bathing and feeding themselves. Caregivers will find that if they have a daily plan for the patient, they can cope with the problems that crop up each day. You will also have to learn how to be flexible with your own daily routines. The Alzheimer patient will have good times in a day and moody times. If the patient is cooperative in the mornings, try and plan your shopping during those hours. If the patient usually gets confused in the afternoons, try doing activities at home where the patient is more familiar with his or her surroundings.
Home Safety Tips
When caring for an Alzheimer’s patient at home you will need to make sure the home is safe and secure. Locks should be placed on all doors that lead to the outside and all the windows. You should also take off the lock on the bathroom door. Patients sometimes will wonder during the day and you do not want him or her to be locked in the bathroom. Any cabinet or closet where you store chemicals or cleaning products should have childproof latches on them. The lower kitchen cabinets also have the childproof latches. If the patient can reach the upper cabinets and has a habit of going into the cabinets you might want to latch them as well.
Make sure that all medications are labeled properly and locked up. Guns should have childproof locks on them and stored in a locked cabinet or out of sight completely. If the patient smokes, you will need to be with the patient when he/she wants to smoke. Keep the cigarettes, lighter and ashtrays out of sight. If the patient does not see the items he may just stop smoking altogether. Make sure all knives are locked up. Kitchen knives should go into a drawer with a childproof latch.
The clutter in your home needs to be put away and safe walk through areas in the home needs to be defined. Small scatter rugs and any objects that may cause the patient to fall should be put away. The lighting in your home should be bright enough for the patient to walk around comfortably without straining to see each step. Have lighting on the front step and up the walkway to the front door and the entrance into the garage, if you have a garage.
Equipment and Pool Area
All your lawn equipment and electrical equipment needs to be locked up in a shed where the patient can not get in to and be harmed. If you have a pool, you should have an alarm on the door leading out to the pool and the door should have a lock placed high up on the door. Have safety devices such as a long pole and a life ring out by your pool at all times. When the family is out at the pool and the patient is with you keep the devices handy in case the patient decides to take a swim without warning.
Eliminate Stress for Patient
Holidays can be stressful enough without having an Alzheimer’s Patient to care for and worry about with all the decorations and company that will be coming over. You will need to limit how much you put out for decorations, depending on how the patient will react to having the clutter around. Limit friends and family to just a few people at a time for a visit. Make sure the patient can sit and rest when he/she wants to get away from all the excitement. Try to avoid large crowds or changing the patients routine to much.
Alzheimer patients have a tendency to wonder. Protect your patient with a medical alert bracelet and proper identification so the police or neighbors can bring the patient home safely. Tell your neighbors about his/her condition so if they do see the patient wondering they will bring the patient back.
Ask for Help
Do not be afraid to ask for help. Your family and the community can pitch in and give you a break even if it is only for a couple of hours. Most communities have a day program where the patient can go and join into activities and you can relax or shop while the patient is enjoying time with other people.