Hiring A Home Health Aide - Reducing Dementia Stress And Irritation

Posted on: 9 March 2015


If you have taken on the responsibility of caretaker for an aging parent with dementia or Alzheimer's disease, then you may find yourself stressed and tired at the end of the day. As a caretaker, you must remain strong both emotionally and physically to provide the care that is needed. This may mean that you need to ask for assistance to ensure your own well being. Home health care aides can provide the help. The aide can assist your parent while you work or rest. Your mother or father may become confused or agitated at first by the environmental change though. Follow the tips below if you want to keep stress, confusion, and irritation to a minimum.

Think About Removing Mirrors

Elderly individuals with dementia often become upset when a number of mirrors are located within the home. This happens because both perception and cognition are impaired and visual information may not be interpreted properly.  

Your parent may not be able to recognize their own reflection and this can lead to fear and confusion. A glimpse of movement within the mirror may cause panic and indicate that an intruder is in the house. In some cases, individuals may think that real people live within the mirrors. If you have noticed these issues, then you may offer reassurance to your loved one. This likely diffuses the situation quickly, because your parent trusts you.

Home health aides may not be able to offer the same reassurance that you can, because a trusting bond has not been formed. This means you should prevent mirror issues by removing them from your home. You can also place small mirrors higher up on the walls so reflections are not readily seen. If issues occur during bathing sessions, then place a small curtain over bathroom mirrors that can be opened and closed. Choose a heavyweight fabric like denim, tweed, velvet, or canvas for the curtain. This is best to obscure reflections completely.

Buy New Clothes

People with dementia often like to remain as independent as possible. This independence is a source of pride and personal identity. Very basic tasks like dressing one's self can provide the independence your parent needs, especially once a health care aide enters the home. Unfortunately, confusion can occur if clothes must be matched according to color or if your parent forgets the order that clothing is put on.

You can reduce clothing stress and confusion by buying clothes in basic black, gray, white, and tan colors that do not need to be matched.  Also, a variety of different pieces of underwear that are exactly the same can reduce choice concerns. Clothing with velcro, zipper, snap, and elastic closures are best as well to make dressing easier. These types of garments are often called adaptive clothing.

Once the clothing is purchased, hang up shirts, pants, and underwear in your loved one's closet so all garments can be seen. Place underwear in the closet first though, so your parent is encouraged to put the undergarments on in the correct order.

Fill a Water Pitcher

If your parent has Alzheimer's disease, then he or she may forget to drink water throughout the day. Older individuals also have a decreased thirst response that prompts them to drink. This response is even worse when dementia forms, because brain signals are often compromised. This is a concern, because dehydration can lead to increased levels of confusion, headaches, fatigue, and low blood pressure. This can cause irritation and difficulties when your parent's home health care aide arrives at the home.

You can prevent dehydration by filling a large pitcher with a little less than two liters of water. Fill the pitcher in the morning, and ask the home health aide to provide your parent with water from the pitcher throughout the day. This will reduce dehydration concerns and confusion over the amount of water your mother or father drinks.

If you take care of a parent with dementia, then it may be wise to hire a home health aide so that caretaker responsibilities do not rest solely on you. When the aide is brought into the home, you need to make sure that your parent does not become stressed, and the tips above can help you with this.