Caring for People with Alzheimer's
Please note that this is a personal story submitted by an About.com reader.
I would like to first start by saying that Alzheimer's has changed my life a lot for the better.
I am 21-years-old and I work in a nursing facility in Maryland. Every day to me is a new tale, even though I do the same thing. I am responsible for the care of Alzheimer's patients, many with end-stage dementia. My shift starts at 7:00 am, I go into report and get started with my day.
My first patient, I wash him up, put him on a lift and get him started for the day. While with this patient I am often groped, hollered at and even hit. Many of the patients I care for are very combative.
After my first patient, its down the hall to the next, she is a lovely woman, in her 70s, loves to dance and rock in her wheelchair to Elvis or any other upbeat music on in our dining room. She is one of the people I have made breakthroughs with. I like to keep her on her feet and walking as much as possible -- after all, in life it is important to use what you have so you don't lose it. This is one thing I live by while I am at work, I like to keep my patients as active as possible even though most can't do that much.
Breakfast starts at 9:00 am so I don't have much time to get the rest of my patients up out of bed, which I always try to do. Now I go and see another lady. Every morning we get up and walk to the bathroom, get cleaned up and dressed for breakfast. I can say that this woman has a smile to die for, there's not much that gets her spirits down, that really makes me feel confident that I am doing my job well.
Though I remember one day in the dining room we were [giving] breakfast and one patient was feeding herself some bread. I came up and noticed that she was rocking back and forth quickly and then saw her lips turning blue. To me it was obvious that she was choking. I got behind her chair and began the Heimlich. I thank God within seconds the piece of bread lodged in her throat flew out and she caught her breath and was OK.
It's moments like that really make you realize how delicate life is. I love my job, and all of the wonderful people I get to care for each day. Everyone tells me what a good person I am for being able to do what I do so well, and they are right, but I couldn't do it if I didn't have the heart that I do. With this heart I would do anything for my patients to make their quality of life better when they are at their worst.