When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the effects are felt throughout the entire family. While your loved one may be facing the disease’s symptoms, you will also be feeling the sadness that comes with watching someone you care about no longer remember the details of their life. When coping with Alzheimer’s, family members can follow these tips, and a difficult process can be made a little easier.
Find Time for Yourself
First off, it is critically important to take care of yourself. While in the role of caretaker for a loved one that needs Alzheimer’s care, it is easy to forget that you need care as well. Too often, one will focus all of their time and energy on the patient and forget that they need to take time for themselves, as well.
This can be difficult, as depending on the stage of Alzheimer’s, your loved one may need around the clock care. Taking time off from caring for a loved one can cause the caregiver to experience feelings of guilt. Just keep in mind that, if you do too much, you can become ill yourself, which will help no one.
Be sure to call on family members and friends to help, or enlist the aid of a professional caregiver. Just a few hours off to engage in a fun or relaxing activity can go along way to recovering your energy.
Join a Support Group
Taking on the role of a caretaker for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can cause feelings of isolation and loss. Your caretaking duties can leave little time for outside activities or engaging in those activities that you once enjoyed. In addition, you will be managing the feelings of loss as your loved one’s memory begins to fade and their personality changes. It can feel as if you are living with a stranger.
The Alzheimer’s Association recommends joining a support group to connect with others in a similar situation. By joining an Alzheimer’s support group, you can talk with others coping with Alzheimer’s in a loved one and who are handling the same feelings of loss, sadness, guilt, and even resentment. There are many support groups that help with Alzheimer’s, so there is no reason to suffer in silence.
Get the Whole Family Involved
When coping with a parent with Alzheimer’s, it is important to involve the whole family in the care plan. While not everyone may be able to give direct care, they might be able to pick up the slack in other areas such as cleaning the house or running errands.
In addition, as the patient enters later stages of the disease, a family member might need to take over financial or legal matters. This can be as simple as paying monthly bills to something more complex such as powers of attorney. These decisions and responsibilities should be determined before they are needed.
It is also wise to have regular family meetings to ensure that everyone is comfortable with their role. This is a great time for caregivers to express any concerns they may have. Family coping with Alzheimer’s disease may look different for each member. Remember to speak openly and honestly about your feelings.
How to Cope with Alzheimer’s Disease
Coping with Alzheimer’s disease is never easy, but by making decisions early on, and relying upon the help of your family, caregivers, and a good support group, the effects of Alzheimer’s can be managed successfully. Find time for yourself, join a support group (if you haven’t already), and get the whole family involved.
In order to help other families, please share your Alzheimer’s coping strategies in the comments below.