10 Ways to Be a Healthier Alzheimer’s Caregiver
By Paula Spencer, Caring.com senior editor
The “do’s”: Positive steps you can take while caring for an Alzheimer’s patientBeing responsible for the care of someone with Alzheimer’s disease may be one of the toughest challenges of your life. There’s no way to gloss over how taxing it can be.You can, however, protect yourself in the following critical ways. We’ll start with the “do’s” and move on to the “don’ts.”
1. Keep expectations real.
Expect periods of stability, but recognize that because this is a progressive disease, an Alzheimer’s patient’s cognitive status and ability to function will decline over time, even with medication and therapy. It’s smart to try available therapies, but bear in mind that miraculous recoveries unfortunately don’t exist.Though you can’t control the disease itself, you can control the ways that you decide to approach it. Choose to be flexible and
realistic, and you’ll be able find fresh ways to deal with challenges — ways that are workable even if they’re not always ideal. Rigid, unrealistic thinking is a recipe for resentment, burnout, depression, and getting very sick.
2. Treat yourself as well as you treat the person with Alzheimer’s.
Caregivers tend to be conscientious about making sure their charge is safe, comfortable, well-nourished, stimulated, under medical care, and generally loved and looked after. Do the exact same for yourself in order to last longer as a good caregiver.And, just in case, know how to recognize the warning signs of Alzheimer’s caregiver burnout.
3. Remember that knowledge is powerful.
Luckily — yes, there’s a positive connected with this awful disease — we’re living in a golden age of information about Alzheimer’s. Make it work for you. Call your local area agency on aging or Alzheimer’s disease chapter now to find out about nearby programs.
Learn specific strategies for dealing with difficult behaviors and how to make everyday tasks easier. Know what to expect as the disease progresses so you’re not surprised.
Find out what has worked for others.
4. Prepare to have all the relationships around you be tested.
Alzheimer’s isn’t just between you and the affected person. Everyone else in that person’s world has an individual relationship with him. Remembering this can help families or other caregivers understand why there may be differences of opinion about how to handle things.If you’re an adult child, you’ll also have to deal with the role reversal of parenting a parent. This can be difficult for both parent and child. Seek the advice of a family therapist if it becomes problematic.
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Alzheimer’s home care counselors at Age Advantage are available to talk with you and your family about care needs for your loved one, including, how to reduce caregiver stress while providing better, affordable care. Age Advantage is a home care agency providing Alzheimer’s Home Care in Palm Bay and surrounding areas. Call us at 321-676-0103.