Sometimes, it is easier for a non-family member to care for someone with Alzheimer’s.
The caregivers know the patient as they are now, while a loved one knows them as they were yesterday. Caregivers don’t focus on what your loved ones could do, but on what they can do.
Alzheimer’s affects not only the patient but also the patient’s caregivers, who often become overwhelmed and isolated as the disease progresses in a loved one.
Finding help for caregivers has become more important.
Often caregivers become very isolated, especially as the disease progresses.
In the early stages of the disease, the patient are still able to handle most of his or her day-to-day activities, still understanding what is happening and able to share in the decision-making process.
These partnerships begin to become unequal in the middle stages. At this stage the patient loses certain memories. They may remember how to mow the lawn, but not how to turn on the mower, or completely forget about paying bills. It adds to the frustration for the caregiver, who is taking on more and more roles … there is a significant increase in stress.
As the disease progresses, it can be hugely difficult to leave the house because the patient behaves inappropriately in public. In fact, it is not uncommon for a caregiver to not leave the house in months, relying on others to pick up needed groceries and other items and drop them off.
Social lives change. If a couple used to play cards with friends on a regular basis, but now one person in that couple can no longer remember how to play, behave in public or even who the friends are, the ties to those friends loosen, especially if the caretaker often cannot find, or afford to pay, someone to stay with the affected spouse while the main caretaker leaves to shop or visit with friends.
Excursions also are often painful and disorienting for the Alzheimer’s patient, who now might not recognize the proper way to use silverware — if they even try to use it.
But caregivers are not alone and are encouraged to form partnerships with others — perhaps even other caregivers — to help handle the burden of caring for an Alzheimer’s patient.
Finding an outlet and finding time to stretch, dance, sing, write or any other relaxing or energizing activity helps.
For more information contact Spring Arbor.