A person with Alzheimer’s have develop medical all problems over time, as we all do. The difference in the Alzheimer’s patient is that in most instances they will not be able to care for them self as these medical issues pop up.
That will leave it incumbent upon the caregiver to provide the necessary care that is required to deal with them.
In addition the person with AD may not be able to effective communicate what is wrong and how they are feeling. This makes it more important for the caregiver to be observant and let the doctor know what your are observing.
Most Common Medical Problems
Flu and Pneumonia
These illnesses are easily transmitted, and people who suffer from AD are more likely to contract them as a result. It is for this reason that the caregiver must…
- Make sure that the AD sufferer gets a flu shot every year.
- Make sure that the AD sufferer gets a pneumonia vaccine shot every 5 years.
Note: The shots do not eliminate the prospects of contracting the flu or pneumonia, but it does reduce the odds of contracting them.
Symptoms of flu and pneumonia include…
- Nasal congestion
- Trouble breathing
Note: Not everyone who contracts pneumonia develops a fever as a result.
A fever is marked by a rise in the body temperature of the patient. Typically any temperature reading that is 2° over normal (98.6°) is considered a fever.
This must be realty with quickly, otherwise the fever could end up leading to other more serious ailments, such as…
- Heat stroke
These are all ailments that hits Alzheimer’s sufferers hard, and any sign of a fever must be treated by the caregiver or the patients doctor quickly before it becomes worse and potentially leads to one of the conditions above.
As then disease starts to progress, the likelihood of the patient falling will increase as they begin to lose control of their motor functions and coordination. Now to assist the caregiver in “senior proofing” their home, I have put together a fall prevention checklist that will give you tips, ideas and resources so that you can keep my our loved one safe.
The person with Alzheimer’s may forget to drink and not recognize the normal signs of dehydration, which could include…
- Dry mouth
- Hallucinations (understanding that the Alzheimer’s may be the culprit for the hallucinations by itself)
- Accelerated heart beat
The easiest way that a caregiver can be cognizant of the amount of fluid the person they are caring for is getting is for them to track how much they drink throughout the day.
I understand this may be difficult to do, and that the more they are drinking the more likely they are to be doing to the bathroom (itself an issue with late term Alzheimer’s patients who are incontinent) but proper hydration is the foundation of health. As a caregiver you must make sure that the AD sufferer you are caring for gets adequate fluids to avoid dehydration.
Constipation can occur when…
- We change what we eat
- Take certain medications (including the memory loss drug Namenda)
- Drink less fluids than normal
Now in addition to drinking water, other sources of liquid in the diet include…
- Juice, especially prune juice
- Ice cream
- Decaffeinated coffee and tea
- Other water-based foods such as fruits and vegetables
In addition, the person suffering from constipation should try to get some exercise in daily, such as walking.
Diarrhea and Incontinence
Some medications prescribed to treat Alzheimer’s symptoms can create side effects..and incontinence caused by diarrhea is one of them. Make sure that the person dealing with the diarrhea is drinking plenty of fluids to counteract the diarrhea and also make sure their knows about the condition.
Diarrhea can lead to others issues, such as a urinary tract infection, if not treated properly.
To be incontinent is to be unable to control your bladder and bowel movements. And as the Alzheimer’s progresses to the later stages it is more likely that the caregiver will have to deal with incontinence.
Some of the symptoms include leaking urine, difficulty emptying your bladder and soiled underwear and bed sheets. Keep your doctor informed because they may be able to identify and great the cause of the problem. These can include…
- Urinary tract infection
- Enlarged prostate
- Diabetes that hasn’t been detected yet
- Drinking too much caffeine
Now, when you bring these symptoms to your doctor, they will probably ask you a series of questions. Some of these questions that you should be ready to answer would include…
- What medications is the person taking?
- Are they losing control of their bladder when they laugh or cough?
- Does the person urinate often?
- Can the person get to the bathroom on time?
- Are they soiling their sheets at night?
- Does this problem occur all time or is it only periodically?
Dealing With Incontinence
- Remind the person to go to the bathroom every 2-3 hours
- Take them to the bathroom and make sure they go. There will be times as the disease progresses that someone will not understand or even realize if they have gone or not
- Make sure they are wearing loose fitting clothing that is easy for you to remove
- No fluids after 6pm…plus no coffee or any other caffeinated drinks
- If they are thirsty, give them fruit as opposed to fluids before bedtime
Supplies You Will Need
- Disposable briefs
- Bed protectors
- Waterproof mattress covers
- A drainable pouch can be used for their who cannot control their bowel or bladder movements
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