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When Your Loved One Receives a Diagnoses of Alzheimer’s Disease: 10 Tips for Family Caregivers

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.


Plan ahead.

                                                                                                                                                                   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 rob@cflhomecare.com.

 

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