Alzheimer’s Caregivers: the burden of Alzheimer’s on individuals and families is growing.
More than 11 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
In Massachusetts, 213,000 individuals serve as unpaid caregivers at an estimated 87 million hours of care.
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other dementias is exceptionally demanding, and especially challenging.
Caregivers for people with dementia tend to provide more time-sensitive and extensive assistance and experience more difficulty than caregivers of individuals without dementia.
Individuals with Alzheimer’s also require increasing levels of supervision and personal care as the disease progresses.
As the person with dementia’s symptoms worsen, caregivers can experience increased emotional stress and depression, new or exacerbated health problems.
Also, depleted income and finances due in part to disruptions in employment and paying for health care or other services for themselves and people living with dementia.
However, there are ways you can help reduce caregiver stress.
Providing support to caregivers can be easier than most people think—even little acts can make a big difference.
The Alzheimer’s Association offers these suggestions to help Alzheimer’s Caregivers:
Learn about the disease:
Educate yourself about Alzheimer’s disease – its symptoms, its progression and the common challenges facing caregivers.
The more you know, the easier it will be to find ways to help.
Create a care team calendar:
The Alzheimer’s Association Care Team Calendar is a free, personalized online tool to organize family and friends who want to help with caregiving.
This service makes it easy to share activities and information within the person’s care team.
Helpers can sign up for specific tasks, such as preparing meals, providing rides or running errands.
Offer caregivers a reprieve:
Make a standing appointment to give the caregiver a break.
Spend time with the person with dementia and allow the caregiver a chance to run errands, go to their own doctor’s appointment, participate in a support group or engage in an activity that helps them recharge.
Even one hour could make a big difference in providing the caregiver some relief.
Alzheimer’s Caregivers: Check In
Almost two out of every three caregivers said that feeling isolated or alone was a significant challenge in providing care for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
What’s more, half of all caregivers felt like they couldn’t talk to anyone in social settings or work about what they were going through.
So start the conversation – a phone call to check in, sending a note, or stopping by for a visit can make a big difference in a caregiver’s day and help them feel supported.
Tackle the to-do list of the Alzheimer’s Caregivers:
Ask for a list of errands that you can help with — such as picking up groceries or prescriptions.
Offer to do yard work or other household chores.
It can be hard for a caregiver to find time to complete these simple tasks that non-caregivers take for granted.
Be specific and be flexible:
Open-ended offers of support (“call me if you need anything” or “let me know if I can help”) may be well intended, but are often dismissed.
Be specific in your offer (“I’m going to the store, what do you need?”).
Continue to let the caregiver know that you are there and ready to help.
For more information visit alz.org or call the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.
By: Alzheimer’s Association MA/NH Chapter
Information on the My Health Fair website should not be construed as professional advice or medical recommendations.
Readers should direct any questions regarding personal health care to licensed physicians or other appropriate health professionals.