Are you providing care for a loved one who is liv- ing with Alzheimer’s disease or another cognitive impairment? If so, you are not alone. Today, more than five million people in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and 16 million family mem- bers and friends are serving as their unpaid care- givers.These caregivers share your experiences and concerns, and they are a fountain of valuable information. Here are a few things they can tell you:
Know you are valuable.
According to a 2020 report from the Alzheimer’s Association, last year families in the U.S. provided an estimated 18.6 billion hours of unpaid care for loved ones with dementia–“a contribution to the nation valued at $224 billion.” Family caregivers are on the front lines of dementia care.
Learn all you can about your loved one’s condition.
At first, there’s a temptation toward denial, but this is exactly the wrong approach. It could keep your loved from accessing the best treatment and support services . Education also helps families understand and create appropriate solutions for personality changes in their loved one, such as agitation, aggression and wandering.
Alzheimer’s disease cannot be cured, but its pro-gression may be slowed by lifestyle changes. Early discussions allow the family to plan for the future while the person with dementia can still partici- pate. It gives them the time to carefully choose the best possible care and quality of life options.
Address legal and financial affairs sooner rather than later.
As your loved one’s abilities change, they will need help with financial and healthcare planning. Have these discussions early, as they may not be easy. An aging life care professional (geriatric manager), elder la w attorney or your loved one’s financial advisor can help. Also, talk to your loved one’s doctor.
Many Resources are available.
On the national, state and local levels, public and private agencies offer support services for the in- creasing numbers of Americans with dementia and their families. The sooner you know about these services the better. It’s harder to make decisions when the need is pressing, so create that safety net now to provide peace of mind.
Talk to family and friends.
Some delay disclosing an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, fearing the stigma that is attached to the disease. But if the family and friends don’t know what’s going on, they might misinterpret changes in your loved one’s actions. You can serve as an ambassador, encouraging friends and family to include your loved one, and share helpful infor- mation, such as the best time of day to visit, activities your loved one might enjoy and how best to communicate.
Meet with other caregivers and families.
Caregiving classes and caregiver support groups create an environment where it’s safe to share your feelings and experiences, and your tears and laughter. Today, there are more opportunities for both people with dementia and their family care-givers to spend meaningful time together with others in a nonjudgmental environment.
Change your home as your loved one’s needs change.
There are many excellent memory care senior living communities. But people with memory loss may do much better at home in their familiar surroundings and with minimal disruption to their lives. Your loved one’s healthcare provider can recommend home modifications to make the environment safer and less confusing for your loved one.
Take time for yourself.
Caregiving is hard work. Yet many family care-givers feel guilty taking time for themselves. Making time for your own needs is not selfish. It not only protects your health, but also makes you a better caregiver. Don’ t neglect your own healthcare, your exercise routine and time with friends – the things that give you joy.
Bring in home care.
If “take time for yourself” seems like an impossible dream, ask for help. This can include arranging for home care services. Professional home care allows families to focus on their careers and other family responsibilities. In-home care is available for a few hours a week, all the way to 24/7. It’s important to hire a caregiver from an agency that provides memory care training for its caregivers.
Understanding the special challenges of dementia, these caregivers can assist with meals, dressing, toileting, bathing, exercise and transportation as well as companion- ate companionship. Home care frees the family to focus on their loved one and themselves as members of a unique, loving family, meeting challenges together.
To learn more about loved one’s with dementia safe at home, visit the Right at Home website (www.rightathome.net) and the Right at Home blog (www.right athome/blog.net) .
About Right at Home of Longwood/Lake Mary
The Longwood/Lake Mary office of Right at Home is a locally owned and operated franchise office of Right at Home, LLC, serving communities throughout Seminole and Orange counties. For further information please contact Right at Home of Longwood/Lake Mary at http://www.cflhomecare.com, call 321.295.7849, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.