The Special Needs of Someone with Alzheimer's Disease

When a loved one has symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, life as we know it changes. Simple objects, actions and environments typically overlooked now require our attention in that the safety and well-being of the Alzheimer's patient may be compromised by these otherwise "normal" things.

Such is the case with George. George is only 63 years old but was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at age 60. At first, his co-workers in the large construction firm he worked for noticed that he would forget meeting times and customer's names - something he had always been especially organized and good with. George was mildly aware of his forgetfulness, but brushed it off as "just being too busy." His turning point came one afternoon as he was leaving the office; he got into his car and started it but just could not remember how to get home. He knew then that "just being overworked" was not the issue - he had a problem. He and his wife, Helen, went for a doctor's visit and after some preliminary tests, his doctor felt he exhibited the early signs of Alzheimer's disease.

Soon George could no longer perform his demanding job duties and needed to resign from his employment. Helen is 10 years younger and maintained her full-time job in order to provide health insurance and an income. She was uncomfortable about leaving George alone all day and felt she needed to hire someone to stay with him. George was resistant to having what he called a "babysitter" and was not in favor of having "a stranger in his home."

In Home Nurse

Helen called Central Penn Nursing Care, Inc. after noticing their advertisements on billboards and in the newspaper to find out what if anything they could offer her. She felt so trapped in her situation of needing to work and wanting to care for her husband, but she knew she needed outside help.

After a free assessment by Central Penn Nursing Care, Helen learned that the following services would be available to help meet her and George's needs:

  • Specially trained caregivers for the unique needs of the Alzheimer's client
    • Caregivers attend an 8-hour course to learn how Alzheimer's disease affects the brain, its progression, unique safety measures, how to communicate with someone with cognitive impairment, and how this disease effects the entire family unit.
  • 24 hours a day, 7 days a week service so she can choose what hours she will need the caregiver to be available to care for George.
  • The ability to schedule a consistent team of caregivers so George will get to know them and not view them as "strangers in his home."
  • Nursing Supervisors who are able to offer helpful suggestions to Helen to safeguard George's environment while maintaining his dignity.

Now Helen is able to leave for work every morning knowing George will be well cared for in a safe environment - their home environment. George looks forward to having his caregivers come spend time with him and he can still beat every one of them at chess!