Being a caregiver for a parent with alzheimer’s disease is difficult. It’s difficult for you and your parent, but for different reasons. I have been on the caregiver side of this horrible disease and I have also had the pleasure of being a social worker and working with alzheimer patients in an assisted living community. What a different experience they have been.
I loved my patients very much. I learned a great deal from each of them and they will always have a special place in my heart. Besides the work related things that social workers have to do, some of the activities I had the pleasure of doing with my alzheimer’s patients would include dancing, playing games, singing, telling stories, taking walks, and feeding the ducks. It was so rewarding to be able to spend the last part of their life with them.
On the other hand, being a caregiver in your own home for a parent with alzheimer’s disease is completely different. Maybe it’s because they live in your home. Or perhaps, it’s not all fun and games and you don’t get leave that environment at the end of the day. It very well could be that all the responsiblity falls on you. Being a cargiver isn’t someone who gets to only share in all the fun activities with them. No, being a caregiver means you are now their accountant, their cook, their housekeeper, their verbal punching bag, their memory, their pharmacist, their daily needs provider. Your life becomes all consumed by their needs and it’s hard.
There is something I have found that has helped a lot with the frustration for both the caregiver and the alzheimer’s patient and that is to organize them and their daily living items. Let me give you an example why this is so important.
We would give my mother-in-law freedom to shop at the store and buy whatever she felt she needed and we would add to the cart what she would forget. After awhile we started thinking, there is no way she needs more shampoo already or has she really already run out of toothpaste? That’s when I realized I needed to do something about not knowing what she had in her room and what she didn’t have in her room. It was time to Organize Mom.
It’s important to help organize your parents. When they aren’t organized they have no idea what they have and are always frustrated and aggitated. That isn’t something fun to live with. So by organizing them – you are helping to make life easier and more peaceful for everyone.
Steps to take when organizing an alzheimer’s patient:
It took me awhile to work up the courage to do it. People with alzheimer’s diease need structure. And they don’t do well with change at all. So I was trying to think of ways to implement this change without it being too drastic for her.
While she was out one day I added two bookshelves to her room. I didn’t do anything else. I wanted her to get adjusted to this change. When she didn’t mention it and I noticed she started putting things on the shelves I knew we were in the clear and I could proceed with getting her organized.
The next time she went out, I went through her room and gathered all the stuff that needed to go on the shelves. For example, toothpaste, denture cleaner, toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, etc.
Then, I separated everything into like piles. For instance, she had 4 shampoos, 3 toothpastes, and enough denture cleaner to last until I need them. Nothing had a home so it was no wonder she didn’t know what she had and didn’t have. Once I gathered all her essentials I labeled a section on the bookshelf and even took a marker and wrote in bigger letters what the item was.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- their daily living items
Writing in bigger letters helps them identify items
Label the bookshelf so everything has a home and is easily identifiable.
I check her shelves every couple days to make sure everything is in the right spot and to see if she has run out of anything. She likes to fiddle around and move things, but since everything is labeled it takes no time to get everything back to its home.
- You save time and money. Before you leave the house to take them shopping, you can have a quick check and see what they need. When they tell you they need toothpaste you know whether they do or not because everything has a home and you were able to take two seconds before you left to check. Instead of searching in their room or guessing.
- Makes everyone’s life easier. Getting your loved one organzied is something that will make your life a lot easier. The sooner you do it, the better.
Once you have their room all situated, maybe you are ready to tackle their finances and get them in order. Here is a great post with a free printable to help you get started.
If you, too, have found yourself on the caregiver end please know you aren’t alone. It’s hard, from my experience raising a two year old is far easier than being a caregiver for an alzheimer’s patient. You’ll get through it, you’ve made it this far.