Tips for the caregiver of an Alzheimer’s Patient
Provided by The Alzheimer’s Association
Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia can be overwhelming and is often described as “The 36 Hour Day.” The caregiver must cope with declining abilities and difficult behaviors. Basic activities of daily living often become hard to manage for both the care receiver and the caregiver.
Alzheimer’s disease does not affect just an individual; it upsets the entire family. Studies indicate caregivers succumb to more health problems, depression, higher mortality rates, and greater suicide risk, generating multiple patients instead of one.
For caregivers, paying attention to their own needs is essential to remaining healthy and able to take care of their loved ones. If you are becoming overwhelmed with all of the responsibilities associated with caregiving, here are some suggestions that can help make caregiving easier:
- Take care of your own health. Your health is very important. Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water. Find time for some exercise – regular exercise can be beneficial in reducing stress. Get enough sleep.
- Learn to go slowly to save time and effort in the long run. When you are caring for a person with dementia, accept the fact that things will take longer.
- Educate yourself, family, and friends about the illness. Call the Alzheimer’s Association (800.272.3900) for a family orientation or other educational information. Attend workshops to learn techniques that will make your caregiving less stressful. Share information on the disease with family and friends.
- Ask for help. You can be overdoing it and not receiving the help that you need because you make things look too easy. It is OK to ask for help. You may need to be very specific in your requests.
- Make time for yourself, not only for business but also for leisure. No matter how busy your schedule is, block out a period of time each week that is just for you.
- Join a support group sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association. The purpose of a support group is to provide an opportunity to meet regularly for mutual support and to exchange coping skills with each other.
- Explore options for the future. Planning is everything. If you have noticed changes in your loved one, begin researching options now. You don’t want to put yourself in a crisis situation. The Alzheimer’s Association has lists of resources including: adult day care centers, in-home care providers, and long-term care facilities.
- Keep a sense of humor. Your attitude is your most important line of defense. Things will happen that you will be able to laugh about, if not now at least in the future.
Caring for a loved one with dementia is one of the biggest commitments a person can face. Don’t face this alone. Reach out and ask for help. The Alzheimer’s Association is here to help you through this journey 800.272.3900 or www.alz.org/grva.