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How to Help an Alzheimer's Caregiver

- Monday, January 14, 2013

The purpose of this article is to answer the question that friends and relatives of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia often ask: “how can I help?”

It is estimated that 5.1 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s disease. Caring for persons with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia related diseases is a physically and emotionally challenging responsibility for family members who become caregivers. Most are not prepared to deal with what has happened to them. A strong network of family and friends is a vital lifeline for Alzheimer’s caregivers as they struggle to care for a loved one with this disease.

One of the most important things you can give a caregiver is TIME. They need just a little time to briefly take a breather. Time away from responsibility periodically can be a lifesaver.

Alzheimer’s care is a round-the-clock job. When you offer to help an Alzheimer’s caregiver, be specific and gently persistent.

Make concrete offers of help. For example, The Mayo Clinic suggests the following:

  • I’m going to the grocery store. What can I pick up for you?
  • I’ve got a couple of hours free tomorrow afternoon. May I sit in for you while you run a few errands or take some time for yourself?
  • I doubled my meatloaf recipe so that I could share it with you. I brought enough to last you for several meals.
  • Do you need some laundry done? I can pick it up today and bring it back clean tomorrow.
  • Does your yard need to be mowed? I’d be happy to take care of it this weekend.

The suggestions by the Mayo Clinic are excellent. Oftentimes friends don’t know what they can do or how to ask.

There are many specific ways to assist a caregiver. Friends can make a tremendous difference in the well-being of an Alzheimer’s caregiver.

If you or someone you know needs help with Alzheimer’s care, contact Spring Arbor.

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