Empathy is especially important when interacting with people who have Alzheimer's disease.
Example: If an Alzheimer's patient starts talking about his/her long-dead mother as if she were still alive, the caregiver should not try to correct him. Instead, say something like, "It sounds as if you really miss your mom." Learning how Alzheimer's progresses and how to handle it can help family members develop empathy-go to www.alz.org for details. Paid caregivers can be taught to have more empathy, too. Tell caregivers what the patient is used to doing—share his interests and patterns with them.
Example: If the person with Alzheimer's is used to taking showers only at night, he/she may become distressed if caregivers try to help him shower in the morning.
Helpful: Fill out the "Personal Facts and Insights" form at www.alz.org (search for "Personal Facts and Insights"). The form, which asks questions about the person with Alzheimer's, can be given to all caregivers.
New Device Keeps Alzheimer's Patients Safe
An innovative walking shoe has a global positioning device implanted in the heel. A caregiver can specify a zone in which his/her loved one can move around freely. When a patient goes outside the designated area, a message alerts the caregiver.
Cost: $300 plus $35 to $40 a month for tracking services. Aetrex Worldwide, 800-526-2739, www.aetrex.com.
Falls Can Indicate Alzheimer's
Early sign of Alzheimer's that often is ignored...frequent falls.
Recent finding: Older people with preclinical Alzheimer's, as measured by brain scans that showed signs of amyloid plaques, are twice as likely to fall as people without preclinical Alzheimer's.
What to do: Everyone over age 65 should evaluate his/her fall risk. If you have had a fall, or a loved one has fallen, consult a physician.
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