If a loved one recently received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, there are some steps you can take to help manage some of the stress and worry that you might be experiencing.
Learn as much as you can about the disease so you will know how you can help. Learn about the progression, symptoms and stages of the disease process and behaviors common in each of the stages. Your doctor can provide this information, and an overview of it can also be found online on the Alzheimer’s Association Web site.
The doctor will be able to tell you where your loved one is in the course of the disease and what to expect in the future. He or she will also be able to tell you what treatments are available to alleviate symptoms and address challenging behaviors. Ask your doctor and/or contact your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to see if there are other resources in your local community, such as support groups, in which you can learn more and find support from others who are caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s.
When you are supporting someone with Alzheimer’s, you need someone to talk to and support you. Consider attending a local support group or participating in an online support group. In addition to being able to share your feelings and concerns with others who are in similar situations, these groups often provide helpful ideas and resources that have been utilized by others caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.
Take time for yourself
You will most likely observe and experience changes in your loved one’s personality. These changes can affect your relationship with him or her as well as with other family members and friends. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s requires both physical and emotional stamina. In order to be a caregiver to another person, you must take care of yourself.
Plan for the future
Prepare financial and legal documents and investigate long-term care options including adult day services and respite services.
The most effective caregiver is well informed, prepared and asks for help and support from resources that are available.
By Michelle Kutner, CSW, MSW, CTRS
Specialty Service Consultant