How a Home Health Care Worker can Deal with Stress When Caring for an Alzheimer’s Patient
The home health care field is quickly becoming a very popular field. According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, it is estimated one to four family members act as caregivers to a loved one with the disease. These numbers are only expected to increase dramatically in the upcoming years, as the baby boomer generation continues to reach retirement age. It is estimated the elderly population will double by 2050 to 88.5 million. With these types of patients expected to need care during their senior years, home health care services will be in high demand.
Those that work as a caregiver in the home health care field and service someone with Alzheimer’s disease will have bad days and good, just like the people they are caring for. However, there are ways to make the experience a little bit easier by keeping a few things in mind.
First, it’s important for the caregiver to put themselves in the place of the patient. Understanding how a patient thinks will help the caregiver deal with their own emotions better. This way of thinking is no different than how you deal with a child throwing a tantrum. Once you understand why the child is throwing their fit, it is easier to have empathy and deal with their meltdown. The same principle applies to a patient with dementia.
Remember that those who have cognitive impairment usually do not dwell on bad events for too long because of their disease. As a result, the caregiver should not focus and become upset about something that happened for a long period of time. What you’re holding onto out of frustration or anger, the patient has long sense forgotten.
Also, those with the disease tend to adjust to change well, especially those who are in the mid- to late-stages of it. In fact, caregivers tend to suffer more greatly with change than the senior patient, simply because the patient doesn’t really remember what changed to begin with.
One of the best ways to lower a caregiver’s distress level is to remember the Alzheimer’s patient is not thinking about their future. They are not experiencing any anxiety about what will happen next because they do not have the mental capacity to do so. They are not dwelling on the fact that home health care services will be needed for their daily activities.
For the caregiver working in the home health care field, keeping these points in mind when you’re having the best days, or the worst, will help relieve your stress or anxiety. Thinking this way, especially if you’re a caregiver to a loved one, may not come easy. This way of thinking may take practice on your part. Taking a step back, putting yourself in the patient’s mindset and then reminding yourself of these points may have to be done repeatedly until this way of thinking comes more naturally.