When Your Loved One Receives a Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease: 6 Tips From Family Caregivers
Today, people with dementia can experience a good quality of life. University of Michigan and AARP experts reported that while the majority of Alzheimer’s caregivers say caregiving is stressful, just as many say their role is rewarding. Here are 6 things that can help.
Are you providing care for a loved one who is living with Alzheimer’s disease or another cognitive impairment? “The first thing to know is that you are not alone,” says Shalom Plotkin, owner, Right at Home Cleveland East. “Today, more than 5 million people in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and 16 million family members and friends are serving as their unpaid caregivers.”
Plotkin notes that these caregivers share your experiences and concerns, and they are a fountain of information. Here are things they can tell you:
Know you are valuable. According to a 2020 report from the Alzheimer’s Association, last year families in the U.S. provided an estimated 18.6 billion hours of unpaid care for loved ones with dementia – “a contribution to the nation valued at $244 billion.” Family caregivers are on the front lines of dementia care.
Learn all you can. “De-Nile” is not just a river in Egypt. It could keep your loved one from getting timely support services. Education also helps family understand and create appropriate solutions for personality changes in their loved one, such as agitation, wandering and aggression.
Plan ahead. Alzheimer’s disease cannot be cured, but the progression of the disease may be slowed by lifestyle changes. Early discussions allow the family to plan for the future while the person with dementia can still participate. It gives them the time to carefully choose the best possible care and quality of life options. A geriatrician, aging life care professional, elder law attorney, WRAAA social worker, or your loved one’s financial advisor can help.
Adapt your home as your loved one’s needs change. There are many excellent memory care senior living options. But people with memory loss may do much better with routines at home, in their familiar surroundings, and with minimized disruption to their lives. Your loved one’s healthcare provider can recommend technology and home modifications to make their home safer and less confusing.
Take time for yourself. Care giving is hard work. Yet many family caregivers feel guilty taking time for themselves. Making time for your own needs is not selfish. It not only protects your health, but also makes you a better caregiver for your loved one. Experts from Johns Hopkins Medicine say stress raises a caregiver’s own risk of dementia. Don’t neglect your own healthcare, your exercise routine, crafting, time with friends – the things that give you joy.
Bring in home care. If “take time for yourself” seems like an impossible dream, ask for help. This can include arranging for home care services. Professional home care allows family to focus on their careers and other family responsibilities. In-home care is available for a few hours of family respite each week, all the way to 24/7. “It’s important to hire a caregiver from an agency that provides memory care training for its caregivers,” says Shalom Plotkin. “Understanding the special challenges of dementia, these caregivers can assist clients with meals, dressing, toileting, bathing, transportation and exercise. They also provide compassionate companionship. Home care frees family to focus on their loved one and themselves as members of a unique, loving family, meeting challenges together.”
The Cleveland East offices of Right at Home serve the communities of Beachwood, Solon, Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights, University Heights, South Euclid, Warrensville Heights, Chagrin Falls, Highland Heights, Orange, Gates Mills, Pepper Pike, Lyndhurst, Wickliffe and beyond. For more information, contact Right at Home at OhioSeniorCare.net or 216-752-2222 or by email at email@example.com.
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