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Caring for Someone with AIDS at Home

Here's information for the caregiver about how to take care of a housebound AIDS patient. From: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
By: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Changing Symptoms

People with AIDS seem to get very sick, then get better, then get very sick, then better, and so on. Sometimes they get sicker and sicker. You can't always tell if they are going to live through a particular illness or not. These times are very rough on everyone involved. If you know what to expect, you can deal with these rough times better.

Dementia

Dementia (having trouble thinking) can be a problem for a person with AIDS. AIDS can affect the brain and cause poor memory; short attention span; trouble moving, speaking, or thinking; less alertness; loss of interest in things; and wide mood swings. These problems can upset the person with AIDS as well as the people around them. Mental problems can make it hard to follow the planned routines for care and make it difficult to protect the person with AIDS from infections. Be prepared to recognize these problems, understand what is happening, and talk to the doctor, nurse, social worker, or mental health worker about what to do.

If the person you are caring for does develop mental problems, you can help:

  • Keep important things in the same place all the time, a place that is easy to reach and easy to see.
  • If you need to, remind the person you are caring for where they are and who you are.
  • Put a clock and a calendar where the person you are caring for can see them. Mark off the days on the calendar. Write in what will happen each day.


  • Put up pictures of people who might be in the house with their names on the pictures where the person with AIDS can see them.
  • Speak in short, simple sentences.
  • Don't be afraid to be firm. Remove things like dangerous objects from reach.
  • Keep the sound from TVs, radios, and other noises down so the person doesn't get confused by unexpected sounds.
  • Talk to a health care worker who deals with people with dementia about how to handle problems.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Publication: Caring for Someone with AIDS at Home. 1996. (Online) http://www.hivatis.org/caring


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