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Alzheimer's Awareness with Nedra Gilco

The month of November marks Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and we wanted to help share some wisdom from caregivers who have helped patients struggling with this condition. It certainly is not an easy one to live with, neither for the patient nor the caregiver. We asked some of our Registered Mental Health Nurses with experience in this field about how we can help make an Alzheimer’s patient’s (and caregiver’s) experience a more comfortable one, here is what Nedra Gilco has to say.
Do you have experience helping those with Alzheimer’s?
In which setting have you helped them?
In nursing homes, at-home care, and in the hospital.
What skills are necessary to help care for Alzheimer’s patients?
Understanding the process of the disease.
Do you find any particular resources helpful when caring for Alzheimer’s patients?
Playing music.
What kind of questions do you find are helpful to ask Alzheimer’s patients?
Ask them about their glory days. They become more engaged, and it builds trust.
Are there any techniques that you use to help soothe an Alzheimer’s patient when they’re struggling?
I once had a patient that would throw his orange juice across the room every time it was on his tray. I consulted with the family. They said that he sat on his porch with his now deceased wife every morning, and they started their day with orange juice. If the patient is in immediate crisis, I listen to them, no matter what they are talking about. This has worked well for me in the past.
How do you deal with the emotional and physical stress that you experience as a caregiver?
Taking regular breaks, going for a walk, and prayer.
What advice can you give new caregivers who are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s?
Understand that they can’t help what the disease is doing to them.
Do you have any other insight that you could provide about caring for an Alzheimer’s patient?
Listen and show compassion, not frustration.
Thank you, Nedra, for your valuable insight! We certainly hope that this can help those who are in need of learning more about caring for an Alzheimer’s patient.
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