Few of us imagine the day when we will have to become the caregiver of the person that was once our own caregiver. For about 10 million people, that time has already come. That is the number of people in the United States, mainly women, who have taken on the role of caregiver to someone with Alzheimer’s disease.
As your parent’s primary caregiver you want to provide the best care possible. At first you will be left wondering, “How can I help my parent who has Alzheimer’s disease?” and may feel overwhelmed by the reality of not knowing where to begin. The first step is to know that you can do it, and do it well. Keep in mind the following points that experienced caregivers have learned as they struggle along with their moms and dads in the battle against Alzheimer’s.
Although it can be hard to hear, there are some facts about caring for an Alzheimer’s victim that you will need to be aware of. Being realistic about what to expect up front will prevent you from getting caught off guard down the road and having to make ill informed decisions. Accepting the truth early on will also help you to figure out if you are the best person to be performing the care giving, or if you will needed more assistance than you initially thought.
Keep the following in mind when determining who can best provide the necessary help your parent will need:
Learn to be flexible
It is important to remember that the person suffering from Alzheimer’s disease cannot be expected to make the changes necessary to adapt to the situation. That burden will fall on the caregiver, but if you are flexible and keep an open mind then adjustment will come easier for both you and your loved one.
Avoid caregiver burnout
A vital part of being a good caregiver that most people forget is that you also have to take care of yourself. If you become burned out or so stressed and tired that you get ill, then you will not be able to provide adequate care. Proper nutrition, sleep, and exercise will help you to stay fit for duty. It is also imperative that you have time for yourself to develop your own interests. As selfish as it may seem, your emotional well-being is also important if you want to care for your loved one the right way. If you do not feel you can trust a relative or friend to help you when you need to step away, contact an outside source for help.
Bring in outside help
It is usually necessary for families to bring in some type of professional outside help at some point during the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Nursing homes are one source, although adult day care centers and in-home care are excellent alternatives for families that would like to keep their loved one at home. Remaining in a familiar environment will help ease the cognitive and physical changes that are occurring for the person. Home care offers clients flexibility and can help to maintain their bonds with family during a stressful time; all while providing much needed assistance. Caregivers can keep their jobs and social lives while still playing a crucial role in their loved one’s life. Selecting an agency like MAS Home Care that specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia care is important to ensure the person’s unique needs are met.
Call one of our offices near you to schedule a free in-home assessment. We have locations throughout Maine with our newest opening soon in Belfast! You can also find us in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.