When it comes to Alzheimer’s Disease, caregiving can make the biggest difference in your loved one’s quality of life. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be an intensely emotional journey that teaches a person several unexpected lessons. At the same time, caring for a person with Alzheimer’s can also be a test of the caregiver’s problem-solving abilities and resilience.
Here Are Four Helpful Approaches for Alzheimer's Caregivers:
Prepare for the Journey Ahead
The more you learn about your loved one’s disease and how it will progress, the better prepared you will be for future challenges. Understanding the disease inside out will significantly reduce the frustration that comes with Alzheimer's care and help you foster reasonable expectations.
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, for example, you can support your loved one’s independence and self-care, but as the person's cognitive and physical health starts regressing, he or she will ultimately require 24-hour care.
Another important consideration is financial planning and the expenditure involved in long-term Alzheimer’s care. To avoid experiencing setbacks down the line, it’s important to chart out a sound plan with another family member or close friend. Research the options and consult with the patient’s medical team and other family members to make legal and financial arrangements. Identify the long-term care options that are best suited to you and your loved one.
Develop Your Own Support System
Balancing the responsibility of caring for an adult with Alzheimer’s with your other obligations requires meticulous planning, skill, and attention to detail. By putting your entire focus on your loved one’s needs, it is easy to start neglecting your own health. But you must remember that not getting enough physical and emotional support for yourself will be counterproductive in the long run.
Ask for help from family members or friends to assist with the many responsibilities of caregiving. Accept help for tasks such as grocery shopping and cleaning. These will free you up to spend more quality time with your loved one. Caregivers who share the responsibility with others not only provide better care, they also find more satisfaction in their caregiving roles.
Your role as a caregiver doesn't come with an instruction manual, but there are books, workshops, and online training resources that can teach you the skills you need. These will help you stay informed about the symptoms, treatment methods and behaviour management skills about Alzheimer’s and equip you to provide better care as the disease progresses and becomes more challenging.
Joining a support group is another great way to learn from the experiences of others who have faced similar challenges. Connecting with people who know first hand what you are going through can help reduce feelings of isolation, fear and hopelessness.
Don’t Neglect Your Own Health
Take time away from caregiving to invest in time for yourself. Pursue the hobbies and interests that bring you joy. Learn how to manage stress by practising deep breathing, meditation, exercise, or yoga. Fitting these activities into your life can help reduce the stress of caregiving and boost your mood and energy levels. Make sure you look after your own diet and exercise routine and don’t compromise on a healthy lifestyle, even on your busiest days.
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or any other type of Dementia impacts every aspect of your daily life. The above strategies can help make the caregiving journey as rewarding as it is challenging. Learning all you can about what is happening and what to expect on the Alzheimer's journey will not only help your loved one but is also the first step towards protecting your own mental and physical health.