Putting a loved one in a nursing home is a difficult decision regardless of the circumstances. In the case of Alzheimer’s, most research shows that at some point in the progression of the disease a nursing home becomes the right decision for the family in New Providence. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, there are nearly 2 million people currently living in some form of nursing home. Over 90% of these residents are over 65 years old and most require 24 hour supervision due to some physical limitation or dementia.
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Alzheimer’s disease is an extremely sad and difficult condition to work with. This disease is very difficult on the family members in New Providence. Just thinking that as the days slip by your aging loved one will soon become more and more distant. This can be very depressing and an emotional time for most family caregivers. Besides the common emotion of depression, most family members often feel angry, frustrated, and even at a loss for words.
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Alzheimer's Disease robs its victims of many of life's most important things and leaves the one suffering with the disease in an extremely vulnerable position. The inability to protect themselves must then fall on the shoulders of someone the victim trusts. For that reason it is imperative that those responsible for the care of Alzheimer's victims be very aware of every possible threat their loved one might face. Recognizing most of the risks will be easy, but others are not so obvious.
During our journey into Alzheimer's we have learned some of the greatest risks come from the most unexpected places, including from within the family of the one suffering with the disease. This is an unfortunate and even disturbing reality that most of us don't want to believe. Wishing it were not true does not make the reality less true.
Our experiences have revealed that families behaving badly are sometimes more common than families behaving well when money is involved. So how can you protect your loved one in these circumstances? Here are several suggestions.
Our loved one's condition deteriorated quickly and she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's shortly thereafter. Once we realized what had happened with the money we confronted the relative. At that time he insisted that the money was a gift. She was still able to say that it was her money, but there was no legal recourse to force him to return it to her.
Do you know how much Alzheimer's care costs? That money should have been used for her care. Instead the relative used it for his personal pleasure. Did we ever imagine he would take advantage of our loved one in such a way? Absolutely not, but he did and the money is gone.
Do not think something like this could not happen to your loved one, too. It's ugly, but it happens. Learn from the experiences of others. Be proactive, not reactive, to protect your loved one with Alzheimer's. As an Alzheimer's caregiver, it is an important part of your job.
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Working as a home health aide with mentally ill patients requires a special sensitivity to the needs of the mentally challenged. Too often, people tend to think of the mentally challenged as being somehow inferior and as such, they tend to talk down to them. However, what the mentally ill really need is what anyone else needs - they need someone who will take them seriously and make sure their needs are met while giving them as much freedom as possible.
Just What Is Mental Illness?
Before we can begin to discuss how to work effectively with mentally ill home care patients, it's important to understand what mental illness actually means. Let's start with the most basic definition and then go into a more detailed explanation. At its most basic, mental illness means that someone is incapable of functioning independently in society due to some kind of problems with how they experience the world emotionally. Exactly how this manifests itself and what the issues are do require additional explanation however.
Some indicators that a person may be mentally challenged include:
- Inability to Develop and Maintain Healthy Relationships - Many mentally ill people find it difficult or impossible to create healthy interpersonal relationships.
- Lack of Impulse Control - Another common problem for mentally challenged individuals is a lack of impulse control. Many mentally challenged individuals will for example do things in public or even in private that mentally sound people won't do (i.e. scream out loud at no one in particular, cause damage, public urination, etc.).
- Inability to Tolerate Anxiety and Frustration - We all deal with anxiety and frustration on a daily basis. However, those who are mentally challenged often find that they cannot handle any (or very little) anxiety and or frustration in daily life.
- Inability to Respect Others - Finally, many mentally ill people find it difficult to respect others, in terms of private space and or in terms of regular verbal abuse.
Your mentally challenged patients may also experience changes in behavior which are of a positive nature. Thus, it's important to note when and if such changes occur and to note changes in personality, either for the good or the bad.
While you should note environmental factors surrounding such changes in behavior, it's important not to draw conclusions on your own as to what precipitated these changes. Instead, you should note only the facts and allow mental health professionals to make such diagnoses.
Making Sure Patients are Cared For
It's important as a home health care worker working with mentally ill individuals to make sure that they are complying with their treatment regimen. This means for example that you need to ensure that the person is taking their medication on time and in the correct doses.
You must also watch carefully to ensure that dangerous behaviors do not put your patients in harm's way. When danger does present itself, you should call 911 to get emergency workers to help deal with the problems rather than attempting to deal with it on your own. For example, if your mentally challenged patient overdoses on sleeping pills, you should call 911 immediately rather than try to induce vomiting on your own.
Provide Patients with a Path to Recovery
Finally, your role as a home health care worker is to facilitate the patient's path to recovery. This means that you work with them to ensure that they will have the right kind of support to deal with their problems and that you help to keep the family involved as well in the recovery of the mentally challenged patient that you work with as a home health care worker.