Friday, June 27, 2008

Caregiving and Medical Treatments

As the primary caregiver for your loved one you are in a great position to know what works for your patient and what doesn't.
What works for one patient will not work for another. Medicine affects people in different ways. Many different medications were prescribed for my mother and most didn't work.It was about three years from the onset of my mother's symptoms before she was finally diagnosed and during that period nothing helped.

The internet has be a blessing and a curse for the families of Alzheimer's Disease patients.A blessing because it allows you to access information about the condition, its diagnosis and its treatment but on the other hand it gave scammers the ability to rob you because of the outlandish promises made in e-mail you receive promising miraculous results.

Don't be fooled there is no cure for Alzheimer's Disease. The important thing for you right now is to find ways to make the experience as positive and painless as possible for all involved.The medications that are prescribed only slow the process down, they don't reverse the disease.

In my mothers case because I did not know the facts from the beginning, I went through a period of frustration and impatience thinking that she was going to get better.
When I began to get facts from other caregivers who were taking care of Alzheimer's patient only then was I able to understand that this disease would keep getting worse and that is when I began to change my approach to things.

That is why its important to chat and share tips with other caregivers that are taking care of patients with like sickness .or disease, or those that passed that way before, you never know what you will learn.

Having realized now that things were irreversible, I began to look for ways to make my mother's life more comfortable knowing that things were going to get progressively worse.
At that time, I did not have access to the internet and I did not have the time to go to an internet cafe so I depended on the television for information.I used to look at the medical programs on Trinity Broadcasting Network and Christian Broadcasting Network to get helpful tips and so began a trial and error process.

I once saw a program on Christian Broadcasting Network on the effects of Monosodium Glutamate in foods on your brain, so I began to eliminate all foods with that product and I was rewarded for my efforts.

My mother who used to be agitated all the time was no longer agitated, so to find out if this was because of the MSG in the food, I began to cook foods again that had MSG in them and her agitation returned. So I stopped using foods with MSG completely.
ARTICLE-Your Brain's Biggest Enemy-MSG

I also eliminated coffee and anything with caffeine in it. After doing that my mother was able to go to bed at a decent hour instead of being restless and can't fall asleep. She was able to come off of her sleeping pills for good, her pills used to have her groggy in the mornings.
The coated aspirin which is supposed to be a blood thinner did not work for my mother either.

And as for her medications she used several different ones until I learned about Aricept(donepezil HCl tablets) from another caregiver.I spoke to my mother's doctor about it and thus began her use of it.

I am not here to promote any medication, I am simply stating what worked
for my mother.She used to be confused and disoriented most of the time but things began to settle down after that, her regular crying stopped, she stopped roaming at nights and slept through, she was more upbeat.her symptoms began to improve gradually until she reached the stage when not even the Aricept helped.

There is one thing I can say, for my mother, using the Aricept improved the quality of her life and so helped me as the caregiver because there were many behavioral problems that I no longer had to deal with.

So its all about understanding what you are dealing with and finding ways to help your loved one to have the best life during this time not because there is no cure you are going to give up on them, let them live their life as fully as possible.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Caregiver and Isolation

When caring for your Alzheimer's patient it is very easy to let go of your former life,
given the many responsibilities you are juggling.

Shutting yourself away might seem like the best thing to do as your loved one disease progresses and requires more care and attention.
It is common among caregivers exposed to stress to isolate themselves.

But isolating yourself is not good, your mental and physical health suffers.
Interacting with others helps you to see things differently and find solutions to your problems much more easily.
Your problems can seem worse if you don't have anyone to discuss them with.

Stay in touch with family and friends and make friends with other Alzheimer's caregivers and especially former caregivers who have traveled that road before.
If someone offers to help don't say no and don't be shy about asking for help when your responsibilities seems overwhelming.

Why won't you accept help offered? Are you self conscious or perhaps ashamed of your loved ones condition?
As you interact with other caregivers you will find out that what seems strange to you is a norm for Alzheimer's patients.

So if you have been isolating yourself its time to change that, because it has long term effects.
When you have lived in isolation while taking care of your loved one, after they would have passed away you continue to live that way because it has become the norm for you.
It takes Herculean effort to break out of that pattern, so stay connected. its the best thing you can do for yourself.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Dealing with the Patient's Emotions

Through out the period of your loved one sickness you are going to have to deal with a lot of emotions, theirs and yours.

I dealt with dealing with the caregivers emotion in an earlier post.
Dealing With Your Emotions

Alzheimer's Disease patients are most of the time frustrated.
This is because their days seems cloudy, trying to remember, or worrying, or looking for something. Its a great burden for them.

When things begin to escalate and they begin to say hurtful things to you or do things to hurt you , don't try to lash back at them and don't take it personally, its not you failing to do your job.
These are signals that the disease is advancing.

Its tough having to deal with the negatives but you need to be understanding and remember why all this is happening and separate the incident from your feelings for your loved one.
Don't let these incidents hinder your relationship with your loved one.
It's not easy but it can be done.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Helping the Primary Caregiver

You can do many things to help the primary caregiver

Call on a regular basis so that the caregiver or patient does not feel abandoned and isolated like no one cares..

Provide emotional support, send or speak words of encouragement.

Provide financial assistance, providing care for an Alzheimer's patient is expensive.

Have discussions with the patients' doctor, so you know what is going on every step of the way, so you wouldn't be surprised when important decisions have to be made.

Educate yourself about the disease.You might find out that what you thought were facts were just erroneous. Know all that's happening, knowledge is the key.

Offer your services to assist the caregiver or give them a day off, so that they can have some relaxation time.. Surprise the caregiver on special occasions

Become the family historian, so you can gather pertinent information from the Alzheimer's patient before they reach the stage where their memory is no longer working properly.Don't only asks questions, record it because when that person is gone and your memory fails you, that information is gone.

Now is the time to get information on things you always wondered about in the family, if you want to have a record of your family history to pass on to the younger generation.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Alzheimer's Disease and Poor Nutrition

Poor nutrition is often found in Alzheimer's Disease patients because of many contributing factors.
Your loved one may have problems with their teeth or gums, a medication may be reducing their appetite or they might be having swallowing problems. Mechanical problems also begins to show up where they forget how to pick up the food or how to get it to their mouths.

It is better to serve foods that are easy to handle.
Below you will find a list of suggested foods

1. Nutritional shakes
2. Scrambled eggs
3. Puddings
4. Cooked vegetables and fruits, pureed or mashed
5. Small finger sandwiches
6. Fish sticks
7. Half inch pieces of meat or cheese
8. Soups

Avoid foods that are prone to cause choking in AD patients

1. Hot dogs
2. Nuts
3. Grapes and cherries
4. Chips and crackers
5. Candy
6. Toffee
7. Chewing gum
8. Caffeinated and alcoholic drinks are diuretics and will dehydrate the patient
Every 6 oz of coffee or alcohol requires an additional 10 to 12 oz of water to

9. Acidic foods brings your body into a degenerative state

As the condition of an AD patient worsens you will find it difficult to get them to eat and often times refuses to open their mouths.When this happens you will have to resort to feeding them with a cup with sipper or straws.
Give them lots of water to drink to flush out their kidneys and bladder and to neutralize the acid in the body

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Agitation and Violence

One of the most significant problems that families face with an Alzheimer's Disease patient is agitation.

Agitation can show it self in many ways like pacing, screaming, hoarding,or physical aggression which can lead to violence.

The key to dealing with this kind of behavior is to find out what triggers these episodes and find ways to deal with them.

Repeated episodes of aggressive behavior increases the risk of violence in both the patient and caregiver.

There has been a recent episode where an Alzheimer's patient shot someone, click on story to read more.

The Tragic Effects of Alzheimer's Disease