Caring for Alzheimer's Caregivers
November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and is also National Family Caregivers Month. Family caregivers whose loved ones are living with Alzheimer’s or other dementia know how appropriate this is, as they are well aware of the challenges of providing care for a person with memory loss.
The Alzheimer’s Association assures family caregivers that they are not alone—far from it. The number of people who are providing care for loved ones with dementia continues to grow.
As our population ages, more and more Americans will be called upon to support senior relatives who are living with Alzheimer's and other dementias. And the challenge will be global: a recent study from Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) points out that the costs of dementia care will soon equal 1% of the total global economic output (GDP). To put this in perspective, ADI tells us, “If dementia care were a country, it would be the world’s 18th largest economy. If it were a company, it would be the world’s largest by annual revenue, exceeding Wal-Mart and Exxon Mobil.”
Advocacy groups are urging the healthcare industry to develop innovative ways to care for seniors who have dementia, including technologies and services to keep them home as long as possible. For many patients, staying home offers the advantages of familiar locations and a continued sense of connection. And family caregivers are stepping up to the plate, providing support and care for their loved ones.
But they can't do it all alone. Alzheimer’s caregivers report a high level of stress. Studies show they are at higher risk for depression, high blood pressure and other health conditions. A recent poll in Caring Right at Home showed that many family caregivers found it challenging to find time for their own healthcare appointments and wellness activities. Caregivers need care, too.
Home care: a central ingredient of the care plan
To care for a loved one at home requires a plan. And in-home care can be an important part of the system. If you are caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease, a professional in-home caregiver who understands the special care situations of dementia care can:
- Help develop a care plan based on your loved one's specific needs;
- Supervise your loved one's overall care on a regular basis;
- Help your loved one with meals, dressing, bathing and other basic activities of daily living;
- Assist with medication management;
- Help ensure a safe, secure environment;
- Provide creative solutions to minimize difficult behaviors; and,
- Supervise appropriate activities to decrease boredom and improve quality of life.
And the benefits to family are many. In-home care provides:
- Respite time: a break from caregiving so you can accomplish needed tasks and enjoy leisure activities;
- Relief from worrying about your loved one's well-being;
- Help with difficult physical care tasks; and,
- Confidence that results from an extra—and expert—pair of hands.
With support from home care services, family caregivers can go about their own routines in a more relaxed, focused fashion. They report experiencing greater patience with their loved one. And they say that when the home care provider performs much of the practical hands-on work, this frees family and patient to focus on themselves as members of a unique, loving family, meeting challenges together.
To see the report on world Alzheimer’s disease projections, and for the latest information on dementia worldwide, visit the website of Alzheimer’s Disease International.
The Alzheimer’s Association sponsors National Alzheimer’s Month. Visit their website for information, support and to learn how you can support the Association in their fight to find a cure.
The National Family Caregivers Association sponsors National Family Caregivers Month. The Association offers online information for family caregivers on a wide range of topics.
Right at Home is a national organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for those we serve. We fulfill that mission through a dedicated network of locally owned, franchised providers of in-home care and assistance services.