Working with Alzheimer Patients

Alzheimers

 

I have worked in health care for 10 years. I have used Polarity principles with probably every patient I have been assigned. Currently I do in-home care of a 95-year-old Alzheimer patient.

Fear of Being Late for School

Andja, like most individuals I’ve worked with, becomes filled with fear and anxiety. She thinks she is a little girl and must get ready for school and becomes very anxious that she will be late. I can tell her there is no school today, but she continues to insist that there is and we must leave soon.

It is only when I tell her that today is Sunday, and we do not go on Sunday, that she relaxes. We will go tomorrow when it is Monday.

She gets fixated on other issues as well. She wants to know where her mama is, although she died decades ago. I tell her that her mother is at work and that I will take care of her until she returns. She understands, perfectly.

Symptoms as Individual as People

I started this work in a nursing facility and was amazed at the number of Alzheimer patients. Though they had the same diagnosis the symptoms presented as individually as the patients.

What worked for one person did not work across the board. The more I knew about a person the sooner I could help the patient calm down. There was a commonality among them. Not remembering where they were or who they were with would cause intense fear in some and lashing out in others.

Singing Survives When Speech Fails

Edna Sizemore

Edna Sizemore

Elizabeth was often terrified. When I would see the look on her face, I would ask “What is wrong?” She would answer she didn’t know these people and if she was safe. I would look softly and speak with certainty that “I know these people very well and you have nothing for which to worry.”

Elizabeth could only put a few words together coherently.  However, she had a beautiful singing voice. If I started a song she knew, she could sing every word without one mistake.

Singing was the one thing she could still do. She loved it and it always made her happy. Thank goodness for “You Are My Sunshine.”

Out of Sight, Out of Fear

Carol was very young and often terrified. She would lash out without warning to protect herself. Keeping my distance while we moved about the facility kept me safe and was less threatening for her. Finding a way to get her to move to areas needed for her care, specifically, required some trial and error.

What I discovered is that if she could not see me, then I was not there, even if she could feel me. I could walk behind her and place my palm on her upper back. I would then gently guide her in the direction I needed her to move. In her mind, I was not there, so I was safe and she was taken care of.

Edna Sizemore studies Polarity Therapy and lives in southeast Michigan.