Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s – may shorten your life?
Everyone knows it’s difficult to care for someone when they’re ill whether they be young or old. But caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease presents special challenges that you don’t see with other forms of caring.
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can mean watching a dearly loved family member slowly slip away and forget your very existence. It can be extremely stressful and difficult to cope with and live with anyone with Alzheimer’s disease.
Besides watching the loved one’s memory fade away, a caregiver for an Alzheimer’s patient must also cope with the patient’s wandering, and hallucinations, and someone who becomes suspicious and confused about their very own relatives. Plus, adequate care can mean: 24-hour, around-the-clock care, which usually falls to the closest family members.
So it isn’t unusual for most family caregivers who try to provide this level of 24/7 care, to eventually feel overwhelmed and exhausted.
Studies have shown that caregivers to Alzheimer’s or Dementia patients have a higher rate of getting the disease themselves over the general population.
Constant stress is hard on the body and mind. But there are things you can do to help yourself if you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC, Certified Geriatric Care Manager and Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Home Care Assistance offers the following suggestions to those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s:
- 1. Contact the Alzheimer’s Association or the Senior Center in your city. They can help you find support groups or organizations for you to join to get information and connect with others just like you.
- 2. Arrange for respite care; call relatives, neighbors or friends and ask them to help. Patch together a weekly schedule of people who will fill your shoes so you can run errands, get groceries or just enjoy time off from caregiving. Home Care agencies, like Home Care Assistance (www.homecareassistance.com), are experts in providing respite care ranging from a few hours day to 24/7 care.
- 3. Research Adult Day Care Centers; these are typically 9-4 daily programs where you drop off your loved one for the day. They offer a routine, safe environment.
- 4. Hire a Geriatric Care Manager; visit www.caremanger.org for a list of care managers in your area. These professional can help you locate and coordinate all the services your loved one needs, relieving you in the process.