Dementia and Responsibility of Caregivers
Working as a volunteer in a Hospice administrative office, I often hear of Dementia and Alzheimer's disease and the problems of these patients who suffer from them.
Wishing to learn more about this aspect of health, I explored it from a general point of view so that we could be more aware of the special needs of these patients and the importance what caregivers need to be aware of.
I wish to mention that my earlier blog, “Alzheimer's Vitamin and Homeopathy” dealt mostly with the aspect of treatment with vitamins. I think what is written below needs to be seriously thought of if one becomes associated with a patient with dementia. This applies to people in many roles: a doctor, a homeopath, a nurse or a care giver at home.
What is Dementia and Alzheimer's?
Dementia is a loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases. It affects memory, thinking, language, judgment and behavior. There are over 60 types of dementia. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia.
Patients suffering from dementia or specifically Alzheimer's exhibit similar patterns of symptoms in the later stages of the disease. The changes are likely to start with forgetfulness and progress to a stage where total care becomes necessary.
Genetic functions play a crucial role in development of Alzheimer's disease. The responsibility of the disease lies in three types of genes for it's early onset.
A common factor is a polymorphism in something called “E gene.” This is a determining factor with late onset of the disease in some families, as well as in the general population. Advancing age remains a major risk factor. As mentioned earlier AD is the most common of the 60 types that have been determined.
Dealing with AD patients. A serious issue
Here are some salient features from what I learned as a volunteer.
The Do's in communicating with the patient.
- Create a calm environment.
- If you are a caregiver be calm and treat each patient with respect.
- Have fewer people around and less noise disturbance.
- Be at their level and give time.
- Focus on feelings, not facts.
- Always approach the person from the front, make eye contact and mention who you are.
- Address the person by name.
- Ask one question at a time, speak slowly and calmly.
- Use facial expressions and hand gestures to show concern.
- Allow the person to do as much as they are able to do.
- Tell the person what you're going to do for them.
- Give them simple foods, soft, sweet etc.
- Praise and encourage the person whenever possible.
- Assume that the person cannot understand what is being said.
- Talk about the person as though he/or she is not present.
- Criticize or correct.
- Subject the person to situation that can cause frustration or anger.
How you support your loved ones /patients.
- Use your voice to sooth.
- Comfort by touch.
- Play his or her favorite music.
- Read favorite poems, stories, Holy books, (Bible, Quran, Gita etc), or read from favorite book.
- Moisten their mouth regularly.
- Alternate bites of sweet and sour
- Massage hands and feet.
- Brush your loved ones hair.
- Have their favorite or familiar items close by.
- Show pets, dogs birds etc, to interact with your loved ones.
Stimulating the senses.
- Give the person the opportunity to smell different scents. Flower, fruits, food, etc
- Talk about favorite memories.
- Have fabric swatches for them to touch and feel.
The changes one can expect.
- Decrease in needs for food and drink as bodily functions slow down.
- More difficulty in swallowing.
- More frequent sleep and difficulty in waking up.
- Increased restlessness.
- Decreased vision and hearing.
- Decrease in urine output as kidney functions slows down.
- Moist sounding breathing because of relaxed vocal chords and gurgling sound from oral secretion collecting at back of throat.
- Breathing pattern changes with 10-30 seconds of no breathing (Apnea)
- Moaning sounds, which may not signify pain.
Signs that are the result of the slowing down of blood circulation, but not showing that patient is too cold.
- Arms and legs becoming cool and bluish in color.
- Mottling ( reddish blue blotches) on the underside of the hands and feet.
- The under side of the body being somewhat darker in color.
- Relaxed lower jaw and eyelids that remain slightly open.
Can Homeopathy help?
- Yes it can. Hahnemann's Homeopathy, a time-tested, holistic form of treatment based on well proven “laws of similar” and having more than 2000 medicines in its list can be used. The person suffering from dementia needs a qualified, certified, experienced and sincere homeopath and a good human being.
- The aim of Homeopathy is not only to treat Alzheimer's and dementia, but to treat underlying cause with patient's symptoms and susceptibility individually.
- Coming to the homeopathic medicines let me state: Murphy,s Repertory gives for Alzheimer's disease 42 Medicines and for Dementia 32 medicines. “Radar” Mind and its concomitants gives 94 medicines.
- The following medicines have been found useful in treatment of AD and Dementia because of their characteristics in Mind symptoms. (besides other medicines as mentioned earlier.)
- NUX, MERC, IGNATIA, CALC CARB, LYC, STAPHYSAGRIA,CHAMMOMILA, TARENTULA HISPANICA, CONIUM.