Your loved one has received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and you aren’t quite sure what the next step is. You are not alone. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that more than 5 million Americans currently live with Alzheimer’s disease. That number is expected to nearly triple to 14 million by the year 2050. However, an Alzheimer’s diagnosis affects more than just the person with the condition; it also affects the family members who step into new caregiving roles.
Dangers of Caregiving
Family members and friends are often ill-equipped to jump into a caregiving role, whether that means hands-on assistance, checking in after work a few days a week, or coordinating care from miles away. All types of caregiving are important, and all caregivers are vulnerable to the health consequences that often accompany the role.
The Family Caregiver Alliance estimates that more than 44 million Americans currently provide unpaid care or support for a senior loved one or person with disabilities. These unpaid caregivers are often exhausted, stressed out, and feel isolated from their friends or family members.
Caregivers in any role are more likely to experience depression or anxiety, as well as have a decreased immune system. They are more vulnerable to heart disease, obesity, and are generally in worse health than their peers. Fortunately, access to self-care routines, resources, and coping skills can significantly decrease these caregiver risks.
Find Support Networks
If your loved one has received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, be sure to find a support group near you. Often, local hospitals or senior living communities host support groups designed for family members, spouses or partners, and other caregivers of those living with dementia. You can also reach out to your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter to find a support group near you. Not only will support groups offer you the chance to share your experience and learn from others, but they’ll also offer access to community resources that can benefit you and your loved one.
For most caregivers, finding time to care for themselves is nearly impossible. However, the more you take time to care for yourself, the better you can care for your loved one. Schedule your annual physician checkups, semi-annual dental appointments, and time away from your caregiving role. If your loved one needs someone to be with them while you are away, ask other family members to step in so that you can care for yourself.
Caregiving is not a task to take on alone. If you have family members, be candid with your struggles and ask for their help. However, instead of asking for general help with caregiving tasks, ask for specific things that would help you and your loved one. For example, saying, “No one helps me with getting Mom from place to place” is not as effective as saying, “Holly, can you take Mom to her Bible study next Wednesday at 2 p.m.?”
Aside from asking for help from other family members, find support from the greater community. Ask your loved one’s city for information about senior transportation and home-delivered meals. You can also find assistance and support from senior living communities that feature dementia care assistance.
Get Expert Assistance
Dementia care communities are designed for people living with memory loss and other cognitive challenges. From the apartment setup and the dining room to the activities and the shared living spaces, everything has been designed to create an environment that is peaceful and that encourages a successful experience for residents.
At Arbor Terrace Naperville, our dementia care community is more than our specially designed rooms and environment. Each member of our team goes through extensive training to learn more about the dementia process and interventions to create meaningful days and peaceful moments. We encourage family involvement and strive to foster relationships with our residents and their loved ones.
Our team has the experience to guide you through dementia’s toughest moments. We will celebrate the good days and create peace amid the hard days.
Schedule a tour of our community and learn how to become a member of our extended family.