Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Technique Tip #2

Bathing will usually come second nature to a person when they feel sticky from sweat, or smell an odor emerging from their body.  With a patient who has Alzheimer's, this might not be the case.  In fact, these individuals might even down right refuse to cleanse themselves.  Some may insist that they have already taken a bath today, yet we as caregivers know that it has been two days since their last wash.  A method I use as a caregiver is to give the patient two options as to when they would like to get cleaned up.  You might want to ask: "would you rather take a bath now or in an hour?"  This allows them to make their own decisions, but enables us to assist them in duties that they would not think of to accomplish.  Remember to give reminders to concerns of this nature.  Tasks, such as bathing, become increasingly difficult to conduct when Alzheimer's patients progress into the middle stages of dementia.      

Unforeseen behaviors can arise with Alzheimer's disease that an individual in their earlier years would have never been known to possess.  This occurs throughout all of the stages, though may become more pronounced and identifiable in middle stages of the disease.  We as caregivers must know what to expect and be prepared for the unthinkable to come our way.  In doing so, we can somewhat ready our minds, or at least lessen the blow of the emotional exhaustion we may experience.

Would anyone be inclined to share an experience of their loved one's behavior that has changed since their development of Alzheimer's disease?  This does not have to be a negative experience, for dementia can open doors to different varieties in practices of bonding.  How did this actuality make you feel? 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Technique Tip

Patients with Alzheimer's sometimes feel they are not in control of their lives anymore. In an effort to regain that control, they may refuse to do what you ask of them. These individuals know that they have certain tasks to carry out to in order to stay healthy; they've been doing them their entire lives. Though, somehow, they want to do these things in their own time or feel they know best.

One evening I came across a challenge with one of my clients. She did not want to take her medication, stating that the doctor did not know what he was doing giving her so many pills to take. (While that seems highly unlikely, there are some physicians who over medicate individuals.) My client had a valid point, but her medications consisted of blood pressure, urinary control, antibiotics, and pain medicine for her degenerative disk disease in her back. This sweet lady was convinced that she was not taking these pills as I asked her, "what do you think you happen if you did not take these medications, don't you think things might be worse?"  She replied, "well, that might be true."  My client then proceeded to take her dosages for the night.

This technique I used to help me work through the difficult area that evening is known as a verbal technique of extremes. After hearing the alternative, dealing with her horrible pain, she gave in and took her medicine. If we as caregivers present the information in ways that it sheds light on the situation at hand, we might be able to persuade our clients, to what we feel, are the best options for them in order to live life in optimization. We know that is what we want for our loved ones, but at times they are just not interested. If this happens, I personally do what I can to keep my client smiling.

Has anyone ever had an experience that is similar?  Or maybe you've attempted to use this technique and it did not work. Share your story, you possibly could use another technique to keep your loved one healthy and safe.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Technique Tuesdays

Coping with daily routines when caring for an Alzheimer's patient can bestow upon caregivers the feeling of blindness and uncertainty.  Do not fret, Technique Tuesdays can help guide and enlighten along the way.

Alzheimer's patients are in need and also deserve to be understood.  In a video I share with you Naomi Feil's technique is designed to meet emotional demands of our loved ones.  This technique entails validation of individuals with Alzheimer's disease.  To define validation in meaningful terms: Validation is accepting these individuals for who they are here and now with empathy and without judgment. 

As caregivers are well aware there are many different angles one can approach emotional commitments.  For example, if an Alzheimer's patient is crying and in disarray because she misses her mother who has since passed, you might attempt to use the technique of touch to comfort.  Place the palms of your hands around the jawline of this distressed woman, look into her eyes with concern, and speak words of compassion.  This technique of touch mimics how a mother's touch might feel.  The warmth of your caress and the alertness of your focus will flow throughout her soul giving her reconciliation and alleviation and hopefully bring a smile to her face. 

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs illustrates the stages a patient with Alzheimer's disease (those without the disease enter these stages as well) will go through in his/her lifetime, in any given order.

Image from dreamstime.com, Hierarchy of Needs
Image from dreamstime.com, Hierarchy of Needs

At the top of the pyramid is Self-actualization, which caregivers strive to assist our loved ones to reach before expiration. Self-actualization encompasses overall acceptance of one's life as a whole. In the case of the dear woman missing her mother, she would be in the stage of Love and Belonging. In order for the woman to get past this stage, she needs to have the needs of friendship, family, and sexual intimacy met. As caregivers, showing tenderness is an approach that will enable a person to move to the next stage in his/her life. 

Fulfillment and gratification is on the top of the list in priorities when caring for an Alzheimer's patient.  Carrie Gallahan is a wonderful example dedication to these delicate clients.  She entrusts in the Validation Technique to assist her to deliver joy and appreciation to our Alzheimer's patients; as do I and countless others I know.

Does anyone have an experience that allowed them to assist an individual with Alzheimer's disease to the next stage in their life?  Or perhaps someone has heard of Validation Therapy previously?  Opinions and adventures are welcome to be shared as I am anxiously awaiting your responses.