Dental Care For Alzheimers Patients
Good oral hygiene can be a challenge for individuals with Alzheimers. Brushing is sometimes difficult due to the individuals inability to understand and accept assistance from others. To help the individual:
- Provide short, simple instructions. Brush your teeth may be too difficult. Instead try: hold your toothbrush, put paste on the brush, and brush your top teeth, etc.
- Use a mirroring technique. Hold a brush and show the individual how to brush his or her teeth.
- Monitor daily oral care. Brush teeth or dentures after each meal and floss daily. Remove and clean dentures every night, and brush the persons gums and roof of the mouth. If the person refuses to open his or her mouth, try using oral hygiene aids available from your dentist to prop the mouth open. Strained facial expressions during dinner or refusal to eat may indicate oral discomfort.
- Caregivers are essential in helping the person maintain oral hygiene, noticing any problems and seeking help from a dentist. Notify the dentist in advance that the person has Alzheimers so that an oral care routine can be developed.
Find Resources For Coping With Caregiver Stress
When a loved one is in the moderate and severe stages of dementia, it is normal to feel high levels of caregiver stress. You may also need to cope with grief as you approach the loss of a loved one. It might be comforting to compare notes with a social worker experienced in working with caregivers. The social worker can share coping strategies for dealing with the many demands of caring for a loved one.
In the meantime, review these thought-starters:
- Schedule me-time. The more demanding your caregiving situation is, the more important it is to look after yourself.
- Take regular breaks. This will help you to avoid caregiver burnout due to the often overwhelming demands of caregiving.
- Dont try to do everything on your own. Seek support from family, friends, and outside resources.
What Is Known About Caregiving For A Person With Alzheimers Disease Or Another Form Of Dementia
People with Alzheimers disease and related dementias are usually cared for by family members or friends. The majority of people with Alzheimers disease and related dementias are receiving care in their homes. Each year, more than 16 million Americans provide more than 17 billion hours of unpaid care for family and friends with Alzheimers disease and related dementias. In 2019, these caregivers will provide an estimated 18.5 billion hours of care. Approximately two-thirds of dementia caregivers are women, about one in three caregivers is age 65 or older, and approximately one-quarter of dementia caregivers are sandwich generation caregivers, meaning that they care not only for an aging parent, but also for children under age 18.
Caregivers of people with Alzheimers and related dementias provide care for a longer duration than caregivers of people with other types of conditions . Well over half of family caregivers of people with Alzheimers and related dementias provide care for four years or more. More than six in ten Alzheimers caregivers expect to continue having care responsibilities for the next 5 years compared with less than half of caregivers of people without dementia .
The demands of caregiving can limit a caregivers ability to take care of themselves. Family caregivers of people with Alzheimers and related dementias are at greater risk for anxiety, depression, and poorer quality of life than caregivers of people with other conditions.
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Alzheimers Resource Locator Tool
Our websites database contains information on over 300 programs that provide financial assistance or reduce the cost of caring for the elderly. Many of these programs are specifically applicable to those suffering from Alzheimers, dementia or other related memory disorders. One can search specifically for programs relevant to them by entering their demographic information into our Resource Locator Tool.
Eldercare Financial Assistance Locator
I Help A Person With Alzheimer’s Disease But Have Never Considered Myself To Be A Caregiver When Does A Helper Become A Caregiver
Most people who provide care and support to a person with Alzheimers disease dont think of themselves as caregivers. Rather, they consider themselves to be a devoted spouse, child, family member or friend helping a loved one in a time of need.
If you pause for a moment and think about all you do, you may be surprised by the depth and extent of your involvement. While the type of support varies based on factors such as capabilities of the person with Alzheimers disease, health of the caregiver and geographic distance, these are tasks you may take on as a caregiver:
- Assisting with daily activities such as meal preparation, bathing, dressing and grooming
- Housekeeping and laundry
- Driving to appointments and other errand running
- Scheduling healthcare and other appointments
- Shopping for groceries, clothing and supplies
- Managing medications and daily dosage schedule
- Handling finances, insurance and legal matters
- Planning social and recreational activities
- Learning about Alzheimers disease symptoms, treatments and care needs to improve your skills
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Learn Alzheimers Communication Tips
Communicating with a person who has Alzheimers disease can become incredibly challenging, but much of what a family caregiver does depends upon mutual understanding. Without clear communication, both caregivers and patients are left feeling frustrated and misunderstood. When combined with ample practice and patience, the following suggestions can improve interactions and facilitate daily care tasks.
- Choose simple words and short sentences and use a gentle, calm tone of voice.
- Speak slowly and clearly, but do not talk to the person with Alzheimers like a baby.
- Maintain respect dont speak about them as if they werent there.
- Minimize distractions and background noise, such as the television or radio, to help the person focus on and process what you are saying.
- Allow enough time for them to respond, and be careful not to interrupt.
- If you cant understand what they are trying to say, look for nonverbal clues and take their surrounding environment into consideration.
- Learn to interpret gestures, descriptions and substitutions.
- Offer choices instead of asking open-ended questions.
Help With Incontinence And Using The Toilet
People with dementia may often experience problems with going to the toilet.
Problems can be caused by:
- urinary tract infections
- constipation, which can cause added pressure on the bladder
- some medicines
Sometimes the person with dementia may simply forget they need the toilet or where the toilet is.
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Establish A Routine With A Daily Care Plan
The importance of routines and familiarity for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients cannot be underestimated. Creating a nursing care plan helps to reduce restlessness, anxiety, and other challenging behaviors.
Before making a structured daily plan, nurses need to get to know their patients, taking into account their abilities, likes, and dislikes. They should consider what times of day the patient functions best and when they need breaks or distractions.
While most care plans include regular times for waking up and going to bed, meals, and bathing, they should be flexible enough to allow nurses to adjust and experiment with activities that provide enjoyment and meaning. The best care plans include activities that help patients stay connected to their pre-dementia lives, such as watching a favorite TV show or movie. As the disease progresses, nurses should make sure the activities fit their patients’ ability levels.
Nurses should also include their own self-care needs when creating a daily plan, by incorporating activities that reduce their patients’ stress and their own, such as listening to music or taking a walk.
How Alzheimer’s Affects Daily Life
Alzheimer’s progression leads to changes that affect daily life. Patients develop increasing difficulties such as balancing a checkbook or getting lost easily. Progression can result in the inability to recognize loved ones, loss of language skills, and physical problems such as loss of balance and/or incontinence.
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Make The Most Of Visits
Few long-distance caregivers are able to spend as much time with their loved one as they would like. The key is to make periodic visits and use your time effectively:
- Make appointments with your loved ones physician, lawyer, and financial adviser during your visit to facilitate decision making.
- Meet with neighbors, friends, and other relatives to hear their observations about how the person is doing. Ask if there have been any behavioral changes, health problems, or safety issues.
- Take time to reconnect with your loved one by talking, listening to music, going for a walk, or participating in activities you enjoy together.
Taking Care Of The Caregiver
An Alzheimer’s disease caregiver has a difficult job they need to be careful not to burnout. Caregivers need to make time for themselves every day to both relax and to get some physical exercise. Caregivers can find local support groups. Groups can be located through the Alzheimer’s Association Helpline .
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Home Health Care Services
Home health care aides are skilled, licensed medical professionals who come to your home and help you recover from a hospital stay, illness, or injury. Aides provide skilled nursing care, physical, occupational, or speech therapy, and other medical services coordinated by your doctor. You need a doctors order for home health care services.
What to know about costs:
- Medicare or private health insurance may cover skilled medical care services in your home. Check with your insurer before signing an agreement.
- You must pay all costs not covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or insurance.
How to find them:
- Your doctor, health care professional, or hospital discharge social worker can give you a list of agencies that serve your area.
For more information about home-based long-term care, visit What Is Long-Term Care?
Tips For Caring For Someone With Alzheimers At Home
When an aging loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimers disease, their family often chooses to care for them at home for as long as possible. The comforts of a familiar environment can be highly beneficial, but keeping Alzheimers patients at home becomes increasingly difficult as they decline. Each day brings new challenges, unexpected behaviors and changes in functional abilities.
There are no one-size-fits-all solutions in dementia care, so Alzheimers caregivers usually devise their own strategies for dealing with a loved ones unique mix of symptoms. Furthermore, the effectiveness of certain strategies is likely to change throughout the course of a patients illness. The only way to find out what works for you and your loved one is through constant trial and error.
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Consider When And How You Might Dial Back On Usual Medical Care
As you may have noticed, usual medical care tends to be quite oriented towards addressing the goal of helping people live as long as possible. This is done by intervening when people are acutely ill, and by using the emergency room, hospitalization, or even intensive care, in order to minimize the chance of a person dying. It also means providing chronic medical care and preventive care, again with a key goal being to minimize mortality risk.
This kind of care may sound good to you its what most of us expect from our modern medical system. But in fact, its worth rethinking when it comes to an older person declining from dementia.
Why? Because when people are declining from dementia or if they otherwise have limited life-expectancy usual medical care becomes less likely to help them live longer, or better. It also becomes more likely to cause confusion, distress, and medical complications.
Furthermore, usual medical care can crowd out, or directly conflict, with approaches that help people with dementia maintain the best possible quality of life and function. When given the opportunity, most families of people with moderate and advanced dementia eventually decide to prioritize the goals of well being and function helping a loved one be comfortable, out of pain, and able to enjoy companionship and the small pleasures of everyday life to the best of their ability over the goal of extended lifespan whatever the cost.
How To Take Care Of An Alzheimers Patient At Home
How to take care of Alzheimers patient at home? It starts right with the diagnosis. An Alzheimers diagnosis is never easy and its common for it to be followed with sadness, grief, and anxiety. While entirely natural, those emotions are not necessarily helpful. The first thing to do is some research.
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Tips For Caregivers: Taking Care Of Yourself
Being a caregiver can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming. Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia takes time and effort. It can feel lonely and frustrating. You might even feel angry, which could be a sign you are trying to take on too much. It is important to find time to take care of yourself. Here are some tips that may offer some relief:
- Ask for help when you need it. This could mean asking family members and friends to help or reaching out to for additional care needs.
- Eat nutritious foods, which can help keep you healthy and active for longer.
- Join a caregiver’s support group online or in person. Meeting other caregivers will give you a chance to share stories and ideas and can help keep you from feeling isolated.
- Take breaks each day. Try making a cup of tea or calling a friend.
- Spend time with friends and keep up with hobbies.
- Get exercise as often as you can. Try doing yoga or going for a walk.
- Try practicing meditation. Research suggests that practicing meditation may reduce blood pressure, anxiety and depression, and insomnia.
- Consider seeking help from mental health professionals to help you cope with stress and anxiety. Talk with your doctor about finding treatment.
Recognizing The Warning Signs And Symptoms Of Dementia And Alzheimers
Because the early warning signs can be mistaken for normal age-related behaviors such as forgetfulness or misplacing items, family members and caretakers may not know how to recognize the symptoms.
Kriebel-Gasparro emphasizes that nurses who have training in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease with gerontological patients can provide quality medical care to help track and manage symptoms. Early detection of dementia and treatment of other health issues can help people maintain their independence longer and slow the progression of symptoms.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s share many of the same symptoms in the initial stages. These are among the most common warning signs.
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Learn How To Be A Caregiver
It may sound obvious, but seek out information about Alzheimers disease, what types of behaviors to expect, and strategies that are recommended for specific challenges you might face. Organizations, including the Family Caregiver Alliance and the Alzheimers Association, have extensive information published online about Alzheimers disease and tips for caregivers.
Tips For Effective Communication
As your loved one progresses through the stages of dementia, their ability to communicate clearly is going to decline however, keeping the lines of communication open for as long as possible is important for their mental well-being. It is up to you to learn how to communicate effectively throughout the different stages of progression.
Here are some tips for communicating with someone suffering from dementia:
In the early to middle stages of dementia, your loved one will have some degree of awareness that their mental ability is in decline. This can be an incredibly frustrating and scary realization, which is why it is so important for you to be patient and understanding in the moments when they are really struggling to communicate. Just be patient, ask questions, and make sure to listen intently.
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Develop Helpful Daily Routines
Having general daily routines and activities can provide a sense of consistency for an Alzheimers or dementia patient and help ease the demands of caregiving. Of course, as your loved ones ability to handle tasks deteriorates, youll need to update and revise these routines.
Keep a sense of structure and familiarity. Try to keep consistent daily times for activities such as waking up, mealtimes, dressing, receiving visitors, and bedtime. Keeping these things at the same time and place can help orientate the person with dementia. Use cues to establish the different times of dayopening the curtains in the morning, for example, or playing soothing music at night to indicate bedtime.
Involve your loved one in daily activities as much as theyre able. For example, they may not be able to tie their shoes, but may be able to put clothes in the hamper. Clipping plants in the yard may not be safe, but they may be able to weed, plant, or water.
Vary activities to stimulate different sensessight, smell, hearing, and touchand movement. For example, you can try singing songs, telling stories, dancing, walking, or tactile activities such as painting, gardening, or playing with pets.
Spend time outdoors. Going for a drive, visiting a park, or taking a short walk can be very therapeutic. Even just sitting outside can be relaxing.
The Challenges And Rewards Of Alzheimers Care
Caring for a person with Alzheimers disease or dementia can often seem to be a series of grief experiences as you watch your loved ones memories disappear and skills erode. The person with dementia will change and behave in different, sometimes disturbing or upsetting ways. For both caregivers and their patients, these changes can produce an emotional wallop of confusion, frustration, and sadness.
As the disease advances through the different stages, your loved ones needs increase, your caregiving and financial responsibilities become more challenging, and the fatigue, stress, and isolation can become overwhelming. At the same time, the ability of your loved one to show appreciation for all your hard work only diminishes. Caregiving can literally seem like a thankless task.
For many, though, a caregivers journey includes not only huge challenges, but also many rich, life-affirming rewards.
Caregiving is a pure expression of love. Caring for a person with Alzheimers or dementia connects you on a deeper level. If you were already close, it can bring you closer. If you werent close before, it can help you resolve differences, find forgiveness, and build new, warmer memories with your family member.
Caregiving can teach younger family members the importance of caring, compassion, and acceptance. Caregiving for someone with dementia is such a selfless act. Despite the stress, demands, and heartache, it can bring out the best in us to serve as role models for our children.
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