“Honey in the head”: how to help someone with Alzheimer’s disease and not burn yourself
Alzheimer’s disease is not an individual problem. Where there is a patient with dementia, there is a close person who cares for him. And such care is a lot of work, experts say.
Dementia has already been dubbed the plague of the 21st century. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are around 50 million people with dementia worldwide. WHO experts are already sounding the alarm. According to them, by 2050 the number of people affected by dementia can double.
The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease . It accounts for about 70% of all cases. In Russia, Alzheimer’s disease is spoken little and quietly. Doctors themselves often write off the first signs of illness for old age. As a result, the disease progresses, and it becomes difficult to care for the elderly. About how to organize care for the elderly with Alzheimer’s disease and not burn yourself, Vesti.Medicina specialists told ANO “Altsrus” (the organization is engaged in helping patients with patients with Alzheimer’s and their families).
“I would like to talk about dementia the same way they talk about the flu”
All over the world, dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases pay much attention, as well as support for relatives. In Russia, while everything is complicated, says the president of ANO “Altsrus” Alexander Schetkin.
In Russia, several organizations are involved in the dementia problem at a professional level, and enough fingers to count them. There are two such locomotives: ANO Altsrus (a nonprofit organization “Helping patients with Alzheimer’s and their families”) and the “Memini” project organized by the Russian representative office of the German company “Merz Pharma”.
As far as awareness of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is concerned, it’s also difficult, Alexander Schechkina admits. Therapists themselves often are not aware of the signs of dementia. And when the doctor says that the elderly person’s memory worsens, the doctor answers: “What do you want, he is 70 years old, this is old age”. But dementia is an abnormal process of aging.
I would like to talk about dementia the same way as they say about the flu, because this disease is no less serious. For example, that in polyclinics there were information posters that would tell about what Alzheimer’s disease is.
Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable disease, but this does not mean that a person should be left without therapy. At a minimum, this is unethical. Therefore, the earlier treatment begins, the easier it will be to survive the disease to everyone.
People themselves should understand that if their relatives start forgetting something, repeating the same thing several times, then it’s worth seriously taking care of their health and going to a specialist.
Schools of care
Now we are building cooperation with the state, and it is slowly unfolding towards this problem. We already cooperate with the Moscow department of social security, social protection centers. In general, we guide bridges, and almost always these structures respond. For example, they help in the dissemination of information, the president of ANO “Altsrus” tells.
“We ourselves carry out the” School of Care “- one-day seminars, which take place every three months. On them, our specialists tell their relatives about Alzheimer’s disease, what stages it has, how they manifest themselves, what medicines are, etc. After all, often relatives do not know anything about the disease itself. And this is also a problem. And medical facts help to clarify and reduce the degree of stress, “she says.
The second part of our school is usually devoted to the leisure of Alzheimer’s patients, care for them, interaction with the state, protection of rights. Many elderly people live separately from relatives, and these are security issues. We are also talking about this.
Relatives at such schools can ask any questions – how to properly wash, feed, take a walk for the elderly. This is especially true if the patient does not want to do anything. Our experts analyze all these cases, tell us how to behave.
The questions, as a rule, depend on the stage of the disease, says the doctor-gerontopsychiatrist, the head physician of the Mental Health Center clinic, the vice-president of the ANO Altsrus Maria Gantman . In the early stages, it is often asked how the disease will develop, to what state a person can reach. They often ask questions about genetic risk. Many do not understand that Alzheimer’s disease is a fatal disease, and a person will eventually become lying. This information needs to be accepted and experienced.
At advanced stages – many household issues. For example, a patient does not want to eat or walk. Here you need to try to solve this problem peacefully. For doctors themselves, it is also useful to come to school or watch the seminar remotely, advises Maria Hartmann. Because therapists are usually asked the questions that we answer.
The very communication with doctors and other relatives therapeutically affects the participants, helps them reduce the level of stress, experts say.
Of course, there are not many such events yet, experts say. There are, for example, schools in polyclinics. But here, too, the issue of awareness is acute – many people simply do not know about them. I myself took care of my aunt, who had Alzheimer’s disease. And when I tried to find a similar school, I could not do it, admits Alexander Schetkina.
Rest and safety
For people with dementia who do not farm and do not work, any activity will be leisure. The main thing that a person likes what he does, says Maria Gantman.
Much depends on who the patient worked before, what his character was. Someone likes to knit, someone to walk with a dog. And if a person does not like to do what you offer him, then you do not need to force him.
“You also need to be prepared for the fact that a person without your supervision will not support his activities for a long time. People with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, have problems with doing something on their own initiative. You are standing side by side, he is engaged in this, you have moved away – he is distracted and has already forgotten everything. It’s not terrible, if these classes will not last long, “says the doctor.
Alzheimer’s café, organized by Altsrus, can become a form of leisure. These are such family meetings, on which elderly people with dementia gather with their relatives. On them they communicate, dance, sing. You can come here and do not worry that your loved one will do something wrong or will look something like not everything, says Maria Gantman.
The main danger at the dacha is that the elderly person can leave in an unknown direction. If to speak about the technical decision of a problem the mobile phone with the connected function of tracking which is put in clothes of the elderly person can help. Of course, one can not ignore the fact that there may be communication problems outside the city.
In general, a person with dementia can be left until a certain point, namely to progressing stages. If he already left once and was lost, then in this case it is impossible to leave the elderly unattended unequivocally.
Speaking about security in the apartment, first of all you need to understand where the threat can come from. Sometimes a person is very agile, deft, but at the same time he does not understand anything. In this case, first of all, you need to monitor the gas. For example, remove the handles from the gas stove, replace it with a microwave oven, and the regular kettle – with an electric. Someone constantly opens the water and forgets to close it. In this situation, it is better to block the water.
If a person, on the contrary, does not move well, he has a shuffling gait, then it is better to remove rapids and rugs, which he can stumble upon. If he gets up at night to the toilet, you need this way to be safe and lit.
Do not take it upon yourself to not burn out
Alzheimer’s disease is not an individual problem. Where there is a patient with dementia, there is almost always a close person who cares for him. And such care is a lot of work. It’s hard both physically and morally. The person is changing, and it is difficult for relatives to perceive their loved one completely different. And then there is the problem of burning out relatives, experts say.
“This is a complex ethical problem in the first place, and I, as a former relative, faced such a problem. Our elderly aunt lived alone. None of us could not be with her around the clock, because everyone has a job. Once she left home, we looked for her. It was stress for everyone. Such cases are not rare, unfortunately. The question arose – what to do? “- said the president of ANO” Altsrus “.
Here, of course, you need to consider each case individually, she continues. See what resources the family has. Of course, it is not possible for one relative to charge everything himself. Must necessarily alternate, make a plan for care. You can not forget about your vacation. It is necessary to think in advance who will replace you during your vacation, prepare for it. But you can not completely refuse to rest. If you burn out, then no care for the patient will be no more.
You can consider the option of boarding houses. If you have the opportunity to organize round the clock care (and it is important, when a person has a progression of the disease), it is better for the elderly to stay at home. Houses and walls help.
Another thing is if he sits alone in four walls while you are working. Then, probably, it is better, if he will be under supervision. In the boarding house, he will have both leisure, food, and socialization. It is necessary to study everything carefully – how qualified the staff in the boarding house, how it is equipped, whether it is possible to visit it around the clock, what kind of food and leisure.
And if you constantly visit a relative, continue to take care of him, then the boarding house is not so terrible, as it may seem at first glance. Another thing is, when you surrendered your loved one to a boarding house and forgot. This, of course, is bad. For our family, for example, it was the boarding house that was the way out. Although this decision was initially given to us with difficulty.
“In general, we have such a feature – to experience everything within ourselves, inside our family. But it’s not right. Everything that the state offers should be used to the maximum, because caring for such a sick person is a big work, “concludes Alexander Schetkina.