Being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s is challenging. Many caregivers report high levels of stress like anxiety, exhaustion, irritability, and lack of concentration. There are over 12 million Americans providing care for loved ones living with Alzheimer’s, so we gathered advice from others who are dealing with the challenges themselves.
Our list of the Top 5 Strategy Tips is outlined below. Remember, you won’t be able to care for someone if you don’t take care of yourself:
1. Connect With Others, Ask For Help
Alzheimer’s caregiving can be isolating. As many others are dealing with similar experiences, it can be helpful to connect with others. Kathy, an Alzheimer’s caregiver shared that “advice from those who have been dealing with this is helpful.” Friends and family often want to help but do not necessarily know how you are feeling or what you need. Spread the responsibility as much as possible. Assign specific tasks to those willing to help. Accept help when offered and let others feel good about supporting you.
2. Organize A Care Plan
Caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s can also be overwhelming at times. One other common piece of advice from other caregivers is to start taking action early. It can be difficult to get started though so simple steps like documenting any behaviors you observe and having a dedicated care calendar can be easy ways to start. Taking time to organize what is coming can be something you can take control of, especially when there is so much that is outside of your control.
3. Document Care Needs
Someone living with Alzheimer’s may not be able to express their feelings as the disease progresses. Taking time to document personal care and comfort wishes can be a tremendously beneficial use of time. There are lovely topics to discuss, like preferences in music, that can be very helpful to help manage symptoms and bring smiles to future days.
4. Know Your Resources
As the number of people living with Alzheimer’s has grown, there are more resources available now than ever before. Many are local community organizations and some are available 24/7. From non-profits to government entities, there is likely more support than you even realize. A good starting point is this free eldercare locator service.
5. Express Your Thoughts
As Alzheimer’s progresses, people living with the disease can lose their ability to remember conversations and their symptoms can make daily life a lot different. The New York Times wrote this about journaling: “one of the more effective acts of self-care is also, happily, one of the cheapest.” Take a few moments when it strikes you to express your thoughts through writing. Studies show benefits like boosts in memory, communication skills, better sleep, and a strong immune system. Sounds like this cheapest path to self-care is worth the time, right?
Even though Alzheimer’s can be stressful, isolating, and overwhelming, there are some small steps that can help make a better life for Alzheimer’s families.
Don’t know where to start? You can reach out to the CareVirtue team to get advice from others who are going through a similar challenge.