Caring for Alzheimer's is hard work and it is difficult for a person to cope with on their own. No one can care for another person 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When you look after a loved one with Alzheimer's disease, you understand the stress you are facing and know how to seek help.
First you can meet your loved one needs you. This can take months or even years, depending on how fast the disease progresses and what mental and physical health you have. After all, your loved one will need more help with everyday tasks such as eating, bathing and restrooming.
And just as the physical demands for care increase, so can the emotional burden. Demanding dementia-related behavior can affect the coping skills of even the most patient and understanding caregivers.
The prolonged stress of nursing can also weaken your immune system. They can eat and sleep poorly and have difficulty taking time out for themselves. Nursing can also increase the risk of depression. Before you know it, you are so busy caring for your loved one that you could leave your family and friends at a time when you need them most.
To share the burden
progressive disease with symptoms that worsen over time. Shouldering the load yourself can affect the quality of your care. If you are the primary caregiver for your loved ones, talk to your family about sharing some of the responsibilities.
To avoid caregiver burnout, it is also important that you need assistance. Here's the help with getting started:
- Be realistic. Caregiving is demanding. There is only so much you can do alone. Requesting help does not make you inappropriate or selfish.
- Test the water. Request help. Avoid watering your request by saying, "It's just a thought."
- Suggest specific tasks. Keep a list of ways you can get help. Maybe a neighbor could do yardwork or pick up your food. A relative could sort invoices or fill out insurance papers. A friend could take their relatives for a daily walk and give them precious time to shop, schedule appointments, and do other things.
- Consider skills and interests. If a loved one likes to cook, ask them to help with meal preparation. A neighbor who likes to drive a car can take the appointment for a doctor's visit. A friend who likes books may read in front of family members.
You may be worried that no one is willing to help you, but you will not know until you ask. Although some people may say no, most of your friends and loved ones probably want to help, but just do not know how.
When to seek help from outside
If you can not get enough help from your friends and relatives, get the resources of the community. You can register your loved one for an adult day program. Both for the social interaction that the program provides to your loved one and for the nursing time it provides you. You may also consider working with an agency that provides home help or help with daily tasks. Counseling services and support groups can also help you to manage your nursing tasks.
Imagine the process of care as a marathon, not as a sprint. March your resources and find all the help you need to get your strength for the journey. In the long run, help your loved one and yourself.
Release date: 2002-12-03