Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia impacts every aspect of your daily life. As an Alzheimer’s patient loses one ability after another, a caregiver faces tests of stamina, problem solving, and resiliency. Maintaining your emotional and physical fitness is crucial, not just for you but also for the person you’re caring for. Preparing yourself, understanding your loved one’s experience, and seeking support from others can help you succeed on the caregiving journey.
The Alzheimer’s care journey
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be a long, stressful, and intensely emotional journey. But you’re not alone. In the United States, there are about 15 million people caring for someone with dementia, and millions of others around the world. As there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and only limited medical treatments available for the symptoms, it is your caregiving that can make the biggest difference to your loved one’s quality of life. That is a remarkable gift.
However, caregiving can also become all-consuming. As your loved one’s cognitive, physical, and functional abilities diminish over a period of years, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and neglect your own health and well-being. The burden of caregiving can put you at increased risk for significant health problems and an estimated 30 to 40 percent of dementia caregivers will experience depression, high levels of stress, or burnout. Nearly all Alzheimer’s or dementia caregivers will at some time experience sadness, anxiety, loneliness, and exhaustion. Seeking help and support along the way is not a luxury for caregivers; it’s a necessity.
Just as each individual with Alzheimer’s disease progresses differently, so too can the caregiving experience vary widely from person to person. However, there are strategies that can help make the caregiving journey as rewarding as it is challenging. Learning all you can about what is happening and what to expect on the Alzheimer’s journey will not only help your loved one, but is also the first step towards protecting your own mental and physical health.
Please follow this link to the outstanding HelpGuide.org website where you can learn more about:
- The challenges and rewards of Alzheimer’s and dementia care
- Preparing for the care experience
- How to deal with stress and burnout while being a caregiver
- Making time for reflection while being a caregiver
- How to help an Alzheimer’s or Dementia caregiver
Here are two excellent resources for caregivers on how to determine if you need a medical alert system and some guides on how to select one: