Alzheimers Disease Caregiver

You may have heard about the difficulties being an Alzheimers disease caregiver, because of the stress, the never-ending changes, or the fact that it’s difficult for anyone to truly understand what is happening to a person with Alzheimers.  All of these things you’ve likely heard are true, so what can you do for the caregiver, so that they can continue caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s?

First, you can lend your support and listen.  Though it sounds simple, it’s often tougher than it seems.  Giving the emotional support to the person’s primary caregiver is essential.  Caregiver stress is a real health concern, and a threat to your caregiving situation.  Acknowledge to your caregiver that you understand their stress is very real, and address the issue before it grows into full caregiver burnout. Especially when the caregiver is the patient’s spouse or another family member, just ask them regularly to see how they’re feeling and then simply ask how you may be able to be of assistance or provide some help.

If you’re using a professional Alzheimer’s disease caregiver, checking in with them now and than, can be a great morale booster and help avoid the chance of disruptive staff turnover.  Listen closely to the caregiver’s concerns.  Challenge yourself to even look for areas where you may be able to provide very practical assistance, such as locating a support group or relief care for the caregiver if it’s not already scheduled or arranged by their company, and try not to be overly critical when evaluating the care that’s being provided.  Also remember that a simple thank-you can go a long way!

Remember to also connect with the patient who has Alzheimers.  You should realize that a person suffering from Alzheimer’s disease may not always remember that you just called or visited, but they do react and know that when you call or visit, that it makes them happy for the moment and relieves some stress — two things that are incredibly important to their overall well-being.  Be aware that phone calls may become uncomfortable for the person with Alzheimers, because memory loss interferes with their ability to follow your conversation and realize that over the phone, they can’t rely on facial cues or other body language to assist in their understanding.  Even though the person with Alzheimer’s is your parent or another family member, at their mid and later stages it’s important to simply introduce yourself clearly and avoid asking detailed questions right off the bat.  Instead, you could ask “What do you think of this weather” or “What did you do last weekend?”.   It’s better to give an update of what you’ve been up to first, so you can gauge if they’re listening and following along. Ask easy yes-no questions: “Do you like your new easy chair?”

Another great way to keep in touch is to send simple pictures or photographs, with writing on the back that identifies who is in the picture, where it was taken, etc.  You can also send images of your home, your new dog, a re-covered sofa, a vacation, and other experiences that tell about your life, so that they can continue to know about your life, and you can also see if they comprehend what you’re sharing with them.

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