Support Alzheimer’s Caregivers during National Family Caregivers Month
FOR THE ANTIGO TIMES
November is National Family Caregivers Month. To mark this month, the Alzheimer’s Association celebrates the more than 11 million family members and friends across the U.S. who are currently caring for a person living with Alzheimer’s.
We know the demands of being an Alzheimer’s caregiver are all-encompassing and increase over time as the disease progresses.
- Nearly half of all caregivers (48%) who provide help to older adults do so for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
- Nearly 2 in 3 dementia caregivers (64%) say that caregiving is stressful.
- Dementia caregivers report providing 27 hours more care per month on average (92 hours versus 65 hours) than caregivers of people without dementia.
- One recent study found people living with dementia required 151 hours of caregiving per month at the outset of dementia, increasing to 283 hours per month eight years later.
In Nov., the Alzheimer’s Association is encouraging people to recognize Alzheimer’s caregivers for all they do every day to support people with dementia. Little acts can make a big difference.
8 Ways to Support an Alzheimer’s Caregiver:
- Learn about the disease: Educate yourself about Alzheimer’s disease – its symptoms, its progression and the common challenges facing caregivers. The more you know, the easier it will be to find ways to help. The Alzheimer’s Association has a vast amount of resources and information available at org.
- Create a care team calendar: The Alzheimer’s Association Care Team Calendar is a free, personalized online tool to organize family and friends who want to help with caregiving. This service makes it easy to share activities and information within the person’s care team. Helpers can sign up for specific tasks, such as preparing meals, providing rides or running errands. Users can post items for which assistance is needed.
- Offer caregivers a reprieve: Make a standing appointment to give the caregiver a break. Spend time with the person with dementia and allow the caregiver a chance to run errands, go to their own doctor’s appointment, participate in a support group or engage in an activity that helps them recharge. Even one hour could make a big difference in providing the caregiver some relief.
- Check in: Almost two out of every three caregivers said that feeling isolated or alone was a significant challenge in providing care for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. What’s more, half of all caregivers felt like they couldn’t talk to anyone in social settings or work about what they were going through. So start the conversation – a phone call to check in, sending a note, or stopping by for a visit can make a big difference in a caregiver’s day and help them feel supported.
- Tackle the to-do list: Ask for a list of errands that you can help with — such as picking up groceries or prescriptions. Offer to do yard work or other household chores. It can be hard for a caregiver to find time to complete these simple tasks that non-caregivers take for granted.
- Be specific and be flexible: Open-ended offers of support (“call me if you need anything” or “let me know if I can help”) may be well intended, but are often dismissed. Be specific in your offer (“I’m going to the store, what do you need?”). Continue to let the caregiver know that you are there and ready to help.
- Make holidays easier: The upcoming holiday season can pose additional challenges for families facing Alzheimer’s. Support caregivers around the holidays by offering to help with cooking, cleaning or gift shopping. If a caregiver has traditionally hosted family celebrations, offer your home instead.
- Support the Alzheimer’s cause: Honor a person living with the disease and their caregiver by joining the fight against Alzheimer’s. You can volunteer at your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter, participate in fundraising events such as the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and The Longest Day, advocate for more research funding, or sign up to participate in a clinical study as a healthy volunteer through the Alzheimer’s Association’s Trial Match. Joining the cause can help families facing the disease know that they are not alone in their fight.