Friday, July 20, 2007

Helping An Alzheimer's Caregiver

Sometimes people ask about helping me and sometimes I read posts on various forums from people who wonder about things they can do to help. That made me start thinking about things that I have found helpful or, by negative example, not so helpful. So I thought I'd start a list:

  1. Bathroom. If you are an aide and you visit my home please try to use the restroom before you arrive or after you leave. Asking me if it is okay to use the bathroom is not the same. What do you think I am going to say?
  2. Bathroom. There's no one here to clean the bathroom but me. So if you do use my bathroom then clean up after yourself.
  3. Toilet lid. And if the toilet lid is up when you go in there then leave it up. If it is down then put it down. Is this really so hard?
  4. Toilet seat. The toilet seat is never up here. It should not be up when you leave. Some homes are different but leave it the way you find it.
  5. Lights. An Alzheimer's patient lives here. If the lights are on then they are meant to be on so the patient will be able to see. Leave them on.
  6. Cleaning. There is no one here to clean anything but me. If you track in mud or dirt or grass then I am going to have to clean it up.
  7. Your problems. I am really sorry your car doesn't work or that your dog is sick or your family member is in jail or you're broke or any of the other problems you are having. DON'T TELL ME ABOUT YOUR PROBLEMS.
  8. Punctuality. If you are supposed to be here at 12:30 and I am going to be gone for 3 or 4 hours then the 15 minutes or 20 minutes that you are late really mess up my entire time away.
  9. Food. I buy food for dad and me. I don't buy extra food. I would rather you not eat my food. Yes, that applies to bananas and ice cream.
  10. Christmas and birthday gifts for the Alzheimer's patient - check with the caregiver first please. And if the patient has diabetes then food with sugar is a bad idea.
  11. Sugar Free Stuff. Some of that stuff gives certain people diarrhea. That's very bad.
Stuff that someone has to do if you need suggestions (and by the way, if you really do want to help with some chores, then remember that it is the caregiver's schedule that trumps your schedule. Don't offer to do something if you can't do it on the caregiver's schedule. Caregivers don't enjoy being beggars.):
  1. Lawn care - it doesn't take care of itself just because someone has Alzheimer's. Yes, that does include weed eating and edging and so on. If you don't have time to do a decent job then don't offer.
  2. Groceries - someone has to buy them and put them up. But it takes a little while to make a list and it is hard to do in a few minutes on a cell phone call when the caregiver is also trying to change the patient's pants.
  3. Meals - that's pretty nice but please check with the caregiver because not all meals are equally acceptable.
  4. Meals - well there are only 2 of us here - and a 5 lb casserole is a bit of a problem.
  5. Meals - uh - I really don't like being responsible for your dishes either.
  6. Housecleaning - really good thing to do but schedule with the caregiver because not all times are equal.
  7. Housecleaning - look - here's the closet that has the cleaning stuff in it - if whatever you want isn't in there then I don't know where it is - you're stressing me.
  8. Laundry - plenty of opportunity since I wash 3 or 4 times per day. However, I have to wash the stuff when it gets dirty. This isn't like a regular house.
  9. Dishwasher, Dish washing - It is amazing how sick I get of putting up dishes from dishwasher. But there again it has to be done on my schedule not yours. And if you can't find the right place for something leave it out on the cabinet so I can find it later.
  10. Onions, peppers - I would love for you to cut up some onion and peppers for me.
  11. Respite - giving someone a couple of hours off and away is beyond measure
  12. Children - maybe this is different for some patients but not a very good idea here. My patient is not very child friendly. This is difficult for caregivers too since sometimes those children are grandchildren.
  13. Paying bills and business stuff - that's very nice for you to take care of that
  14. Relatives that ask for money and help - very, very bad - don't do that.
  15. Gifts for the caregiver - that's very nice of you but unless you are going to sit with my patient I can't go to the movie or out to eat or whatever. And I don't need any more junk to eat.


Lori1955 said...

Lets not forget those people who say "Call me if you need help", like I am going to call just to be told that they are too busy. I guess it makes them feel better to offer but how about some follow through.

~Betsy said...

Fantastic post. You've hit the nail on the head.