Q: DEAR Nurse Regina, My mother has Alzheimer’s and I have 3 hired help because she cannot be left on her own. I am not pleased with the idea of the hired help just “babysitting my mom. It seems the help is bored and so is my mom. They complain that my mom is difficult to deal with and don’t know what to do with her. How can I get them to do more with my mom?
A: I have always disliked the use of babysitting an older adult but it is the common phrase. However, even a good baby-sitter will interact with the baby or child when awake. The child will express how they like this babysitter or not that one and it is based on the interaction the sitter has with the child.
The same is with an older adult that cannot communicate what they are feeling. It is in their actions of discomfort. It has been a challenge to get people who are caring for older adults to understand that they have the power to make life enjoyable for that older person by interacting with them. Not many people look forward to getting older and sitting at home staring at the TV for the rest of their lives. Yet, most older person’s homes and at home people who need care are reduced to that lifestyle. I am not talking about a couple of hours watching TV, I am talking about half the day or all day older persons are reduced to this not by choice. And then you find the caregiver watching what they want as the person they care for has fallen asleep or doesn’t recognize what is on TV. Or they are on their phones during most care hours. Yes the caregiver is wonderful with feeding, bathing and dressing “mom” but this is not enough. The older person that you are caring for has a human right to enjoy life to the best of their ability and your human right is to protect those that need your help. If you are a family, professional or friend caregiver it is your obligation to make sure that person can exercise and enjoy their human rights.
How do we get Caregivers to engage with the person living with dementia? Give your caregivers more information about your mom. This will be a good start. The caregivers will need a better understanding of Alzheimer’s and understand that this could happen to them and how do they want to live their own life in this condition. They will need to develop non-verbal communication skills and learn techniques to be able to help the person maintain independence with the remaining abilities. Contact Saint Lucia Alzheimer’s Association at email@example.com. They can help you get started with resources.
Family Caregivers have many challenges and should be supported.
A few tips from Daily Caring talking about self care for family caregivers. The article talks about an elder gentleman taking care of his spouse full time. He was not the typical distressed caregiver that is seen or noted. He contributes his good health and stress free life to his positive attitude about life and great family support. Here is what has worked for him: Family meetings with siblings and children; finding a good support system meaning who can help where and when using all that is available such as family, friends, church and social centers and day care; take care of yourself by eating healthy, exercise; take regular breaks by scheduling them; and learn all you can, go on line and see how others are coping.
I want to encourage self care to all caregivers. This is hard work and there is a lot to learn. It is not easy but you are an Angel. You didn’t ask for this and neither did the person you are caring for. If you choose to continue to care for someone with brain challenges please do learn more about it. It will decrease your own stress and help you to decrease the stress in the person you are caring for and it will enrich your lives while the person you care for reaches the end of their life feeling loved and valued.
Brainy Quote~ The privilege of a life time is being who you Are
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