Working With Alzheimerâs Patients
Career Path : Healthcare
With the constant improvement of medical and healthcare facilities and treatments, the average life expectancy for people has increased significantly over the years. But just because someone is living longer does not mean they remain in perfect health right up to the end. Case in point: Alzheimer’s disease.
Beyond doctors and nurses (whose contribution is paramount) there are also researchers, pharmaceuticals, therapists, and personal support workers who all dedicate their lives to improving the well-being of people suffering from Alzheimer’s. Personal support workers who focus on Alzheimer’s patients have many different roles and can work in a variety of clinics and institutions. Many also work directly with patients in their own homes on full-time or part-time basis.
Today, we’re going to look specifically at how a personal support worker helps an Alzheimer’s patient.Â Most of the work done can be divided into three categories: health, activity, and community.
Admittedly, the health category is an obvious one, and includes simple but essential daily doings, like assisting patient to eat, dress, and clean themselves. Personal support workers need to have basic healthcare skills, like administering medicine and dressing wounds.
The more complicated part of the health category comes in the personal support worker’s responsibility to identify and report signs of change, whether good or bad, in regards to the patient’s condition. The ability to do so relies on textbook knowledge and also direct experience, and being able to spot signs of change through subtleties.
A personal support worker needs to encourage and educate all involved on how to integrate a healthy and active lifestyle. Often, the family and friends of an Alzheimer’s patient need to learn how to cope just as much as the patient does. A great way to do this is by encouraging a strong bond between the patient and his loved ones. Although the patient might be changing, they still want and deserve to engage in activities and interact with people, whether it is by visiting friends and relatives, taking outings, engaging in arts and crafts or other creative activities. Many cities or towns have established organizations that cater to Alzheimer’s patients and their families, and hold recreational activities regularly.
Alzheimer’s support goes beyond the individuals afflicted and their families. Personal support workers have the opportunity to engage in community outreach programs to help educate the community about Alzheimer’s. This does not only mean how to live with it, but also how to prevent it from getting worse, and how to notice early signs of the disease. The best part is that there are many different community roles out there, meaning you decide the level of involvement you put in.
There are so many healthcare schools out there training and educating students in order to have them fight the good fight. Doctors and researchers are still trying to understand the exact causes of Alzheimer’s and are looking for a cure. But in the meantime, personal support workers are integral in making the patient’s experience as comfortable as possible.
Visit the Academy of Learning Toronto for more information on healthcare college.