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The NSPA Blog

Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

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Posted on November 20th, 2017 by Teri Dreher, under Alzheimer's and Dementia

November is Alzheimer’s Awareness month

During this month, it’s important for us to reflect on our own experiences. Teri discusses a client she had last year who showed her why advocating for those who suffer from this disease – both personally and interpersonally – is so critical.

Last year I had a client who had lost his wife to Alzheimer’s. He himself had memory problems, and the progression of his symptoms escalated quickly after his wife died. He became depressed, stopped eating well and sometimes stayed in bed until after noon. His son asked me to keep an eye on his dad, who wanted to live out his life in the same house that he had raised his family. I, of course, wanted to help.

We had a home care provider come in several days a week, but we knew that he was missing his medications and forgetting to eat when the caregiver was not there. He dropped over 30 lbs in the next six months. We noted that his mobility was declining. I was concerned for his safety. His two children had very different ideas about what to do with their father. The daughter, who handled the finances, wanted him to stay where he was. She didn’t understand the safety concerns he faced. The son was over at the house several times a week and was growing tired and stressed from caretaking. He knew his father was not safe living in a two-story house with only a few hours of home care assistance per week. Still, he could not get his sister to agree to move their dad to a safer living environment.

Ultimately the client’s doctor talked to the sister and forced the issue. They explained it was no longer safe to live alone. After moving into an assisted living community, the client did much better. He made new friends, stopped losing weight and enjoyed the social activities that the community offered. Though the adjustment period was difficult, he told us later that he was happy and enjoyed being around people again. His quality of life improved, and fortunately, we were able to avoid a calamity  by getting him into a safer living environment.

Events in Illinois:

To find out more about getting involved in the fight against Alzheimer’s, follow this link for upcoming events in our state: https://www.alz.org/illinois/

With over 36 years of clinical experience in Critical Care nursing, home based health care and expertise as a cardiovascular nurse clinician, Teri is well acquainted with the complexities of the modern healthcare system. She has served as a nursing leader, mentor, educator, and consistent patient advocate throughout her career in some of the best hospitals across the country. Her passion to keep the patient at the center of the model of nursing care led her to incorporate NShore Patient Advocates, LLC in 2011, serving clients throughout the northern suburbs of Chicago.

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