Not all caregiving is the same. Caring for someone who is living with Alzheimer’s disease presents unique challenges, many of which change as the progressive illness advances.
We have created a library of support for family caregivers who may find themselves overwhelmed or confused as the symptoms of this form of dementia progress. Alzheimer’s disease will impact individuals and their families differently so not everyone requires the same support as the symptoms may vary from person to person, as will the amount of time they live with the disease.
Preserving Skills and Functions
In the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease, there are still ways to engage with the person who has been diagnosed. It is to their benefit—and those around them—to stay active in their daily lives. For example, a person who can still dress themselves in the morning won’t feel as helpless and their loved one is freed up to take care of other tasks for themselves or prepare other activities for the day.
In these tips, you will find suggested activities for early and middle stage dementia and Alzheimer’s disease such as doing household chores like caring for plants, sweeping, raking leaves, and also continuing to be socially active by continuing to go to church services, shop at the market, or visit a local museum.
This is also the time to start making modifications in the home to keep a loved one safe from things like falls. We share ways to decrease fall risk and increase physical activity that both have the potential to make the environment inviting and less worrisome.
There are ways to minimize how extreme the symptoms may appear for someone who is living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to experts. In this section, we explore how to understand symptoms such as:
- Mood swings
- Rummaging, pillaging & hoarding
- Agitation & aggression
- Sleep disturbances
- Loss of initiative
- Depression & anxiety
Some helpful tactics for caregivers when these challenges arise can be listening to music, refocusing attention, and creating meaningful structure and routine in their daily lives. In these methods, the intention is to build understanding and approach the situation with solutions that honor the meaning behind the current issues or behavior.
Support for Caregivers
While much of the advice available is focused on the person who is living with Alzheimer’s disease, their caregivers are not to be forgotten. It’s key that caregivers take care of themselves with eating well, getting enough exercise, and getting respite care by either hiring a professional to take a turn for a few hours a week or asking friends and relatives to be involved in the care too.
We have the “10 Warning Signs of Stress” so that problems can be avoided for caregivers before they find themselves in need of care too. There are tips on how to prevent stress too.
Consider a support group—online or in-person—to perhaps get additional insights or just to feel comfortable sharing your wins and woes from your caregiving journey.
Being a caregiver for someone with a serious and progressive brain disease is no small task, so be sure to learn more about how you can do it well and not alone.