Alzheimer’s is a life-changing diagnosis for more than just the patient. The symptoms impact the entire family. This long, difficult, degenerative disease dramatically alters the dynamics of daily life as it presents physical, mental, and emotional challenges. Many of which can be overwhelming to face alone.
If your loved one was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia, there are a few things you should know prior to taking on the role of his or her caregiver:
- Being a caregiver for an Alzheimer’s patient is a long-term commitment that grows more demanding over the years.
Every diagnosis is different, but the average lifespan of a patient diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia is often between 8 to 10 years. During that time, you can expect the needs of the patient to grow more demanding as the disease progresses. Approximately 66% of caregivers that still work part-time or full-time at another job say that being a caregiver has a significant impact on their job, as well as their finances.
- Caregiving is not a task anyone should take on alone.
Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient is too big of a job for just one person to handle. The physical, mental, and emotional demands require a caring team of friends, family members, and professionals. However, it is manageable. With the right support and specialists on your side, both you and the patient can continue to live fulfilling lives.
- Caregiving will require certain skills only a medical professional can provide.
While love and compassion are important elements when managing the progression of Alzheimer’s, it also requires the proper care and skill sets to handle certain symptoms and limitations that come with the disease. The right response to Alzheimer’s symptoms isn’t always rationale or intuitive. If you aren’t a medical professional trained to treat and managed them, it’s important to consult or hire one.
- Keep the family involved.
Allow willing family members, including children, to be a part of the caregiving process. Handling the responsibilities together as a family helps alleviate the strain on one individual while allowing them to be an engaged part of the loved one’s life. Work as a unit and make time to regularly sit down as a family and discuss how the caregiving arrangement is working. Allow family members to voice if any part of the arrangement is becoming taxing on one or all of you. The state of an Alzheimer’s patient can change quickly, and what seemed to be working one month may not be enough the next due to new complications.
- Create a time and place for yourself to recharge.
There will be times when the stress or demand of being a caregiver can become overwhelming. Make sure that you make time for yourself. Designate a room or place where you can retreat, rest, and recharge.
- Know when to ask for help.
There may be a point where you and your family are no longer able to care for your loved one on your own. This can be an emotional reality to face, but know that needing to seek more advanced health care options is not a failure on your part. In fact, it may be the best choice you can make on behalf of the patient.
At Home Health Care understands the gravity of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and has both the experience and empathy to help families navigate this difficult road. By bringing treatment to the home, we help patients and their loved ones find a healthy balance between treatment and living.
If you or a loved one is dealing with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, give us a call. At Home Health Care helps clients in Lee County and Collier County with mild to severe Alzheimer’s receive the specialized care they need while maintaining what level of independence can still be preserved.