CNA Tips for Handling Alzheimer Patients
Patients with Alzheimer's disease experience a broad range of symptoms that can leave them feeling anxious, fearful, angry or depressed. Because of this, caring for patients such as these can be particularly challenging for CNAs. However, by utilizing the following valuable tips, you will be able to minimize your stress while maximizing the comfort of your patients.
Encourage Your Patients to be Active
Not only does exercise offer a vast array of health benefits, but it has also been proven to relieve stress and anxiety. As such, encourage your Alzheimer patients to be active. Since many Alzheimer patients may have mobility issues, you will want to consider light exercises such as short walks, low-intensity dancing or water aerobics.
Yoga is great in that it can help to relieve stiff and painful joints of Alzheimer patients who are also suffering from arthritis. If you are caring for an Alzheimer patient in a home healthcare setting, encourage him or her to join you in light housekeeping chores such as folding laundry, light gardening or dusting.
Create a Quiet and Soothing Environment
Loud or strange noises can be quite disturbing to Alzheimer patients resulting in extreme anxiety and difficulty sleeping. With that said, try your best to create a quiet and soothing environment for your patients. Close windows and doors, turn down TVs and radios, and when talking to your patients, speak in a low voice.
If you choose to take your Alzheimer patients outdoors, avoid taking them to areas where there may be a lot of noise from traffic or local businesses. Replacing bright light bulbs with soft ones or simply keeping bulbs dimmed can help to create a soothing environment for your Alzheimer patients as well.
Take Some Time to Talk to Your Patients
Many Alzheimer patients love to talk, and they can talk for long periods of time if you let them! While you are caring for your patients, encourage them to talk to you by asking them questions about their hobbies, children, grandchildren or pets. They will most likely enjoy answering your questions, which can, in turn, help to relieve stress!
As you listen to patients who have Alzheimer's disease, you may find that some of what they say is nonsense. If this happens, never correct your patients. You will only confuse them, and you may end up discouraging them from talking further in the future. Smile, listen intently to them and be as compassionate as you can.
Be Persistent in Controlling Wandering
It is an unfortunate fact that some Alzheimer patients tend to wander aimlessly. In some cases, this can be harmless so long as they do not wander far. However, wandering can be quite dangerous if they do happen to wander out of sight. To prevent your patients from wandering, try utilizing the following tips.
- Encourage Regular Exercise to Reduce Restlessness
- Redirect Aimless Wandering into Productive Activities Such as Exercising
- In Extreme Cases, Ensure That Windows and Doors Are Shut and Locked
- Reassure Patients Who Seem Extremely Disoriented
- Consult Your Supervisor or the Patient's Doctor if Wandering Becomes Excessive
Ensure that Your Patients Eat and Drink
Ensuring that your Alzheimer patients eat and drink properly can be a bit difficult, especially for patients who are in the advanced stages of the disease. Check your patients' charts to find out whether or not they have any particular dietary issues and plan accordingly. Some things you may need to do are as follows:
- Assist Your Patients with Eating During Mealtimes
- Cut Meat into Tiny, Easy-to-Chew Pieces
- Feed Your Patients After Exercising When They Are More Likely to Eat
- Make Sure Food is Not too Cold or too Hot
- Play Soothing Music During Mealtimes
- Take Note of Chewing or Swallowing Difficulties
- Feed Soft or Pureed Foods if Necessary