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Alzheimer’s: Caring for the Caregiver

After months of suspicion, it’s been confirmed. Your mother has Alzheimer’s Disease. You’ve been in denial, hoping that some of her behavior change was just natural aging. She’s had trouble speaking clearly and has forgotten what everyday items in her house are called. Where she once was an organized, meticulous planner and appointment-keeper, now she’s unable to navigate the most basic business and social appointments in her life. So after taking her to the neurologist, the truth is upon you.

Now what? What does the future hold? You likely feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to handle the new responsibilities that have been thrust upon you.

The goal of this post is to offer a few pieces of helpful encouragement and a few helpful solutions.

The job of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease is a 24 hour a day job. It literally never stops. It will affect your own needs, your family’s needs, and your career. The range of emotions will run wild: anger, depression, guilt, fear, grief, failure. And studies show that your own physical health will suffer. Keep these 4 points in mind to save your sanity.

  1. Caregiving is hard work. Acknowledge the fact and don’t pretend it’s easy.
  2. Love yourself so you will have something within you to give. Schedule time off.
  3. Get help for your anger. Talk to your spiritual advisor or see a therapist so that anger doesn’t eat at you from the inside out.
  4. Stay connected to your friends and other networks. Isolation causes anger to build.

Perhaps one of the most common pieces advice given to caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients is to get help, schedule time off, and take some time away. So how do you do it?

  1. Look for professional agencies with safe, capable employees to help.
  2. Create a list of volunteers (family, neighbors, friends) who are willing and able to help you.
  3. Schedule respite care with a local daycare program.
  4. Find serenity (get a massage, call your best friend, take a long walk or run, read, etc). You’ll have to find serenity, it won’t find you.

As a home care provider, our services to Alzheimer’s patients and their families only go so far. We are honest with families and tell them that at some point, home care will no longer be the most appropriate form of care. A memory care facility may be the safest and most constructive environment. Until your loved one reaches that point, a paid caregiver from a licensed caregiving agency, like Senior Care Management Solutions, can help you fill in some gaps in your schedule when you need to get away.

We’ll cater a schedule to your needs, and be flexible to changes that come up last minute. We simply want to be a part of the plan to help you and your loved one, even if it’s a small part.

Don’t let guilt keep you from caring for yourself. Get your back-up help mobilized, then go reinvigorate yourself. It’s what mom would have told you to do if she still could.