My long-time friend is struggling to cope with her father’s recent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. She is devastated to have the news she suspected confirmed. Because this disease hasn’t touched my family—thankfully—I’m not sure what to say to her or how to help.
Do you have any suggestions for friends who want to provide support to Alzheimer’s caregivers? I’d like to make sure I’m helping her and not making her feel worse.
How to Help a Caregiver of an Alzheimer’s Patient
What a great question to ask! It sounds like you are the type of friend every Alzheimer’s caregiver needs. Alzheimer’s is a tough disease to witness in a loved one. Having a strong support network can really help a caregiver.
A few ways you can help your friend include:
- Educating yourself on the disease: Take time to learn more about the stages of Alzheimer’s and what type of care an adult with Alzheimer’s typically needs. Once you learn more, you can help your friend prepare for the future. The Alzheimer’s Association has a very comprehensive site for seniors with the disease and those who love them. Topics range from legal issues to senior care options.
- Exploring local care networks: Another way you can help a friend who is the caregiver of an Alzheimer’s patient is by exploring local senior care options. For example, you could talk with a home care agency that offers in-home support for adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Your friend will likely find that type of help to be an important part of her care plan for her father.
- Suggesting time-saving programs: Adults who are Alzheimer’s caregivers often struggle to juggle all of their daily responsibilities. It can make the days stressful and exhausting. You could create a list of conveniences to make your friend’s life easier, such as grocery stores that deliver or offer curbside pick-up, pharmacies that deliver, restaurants that offer healthy to-go meals, lawn care/snow removal companies, and housekeeping agencies.
My final suggestion is to frequently remind your friend that you are there when she needs help. It may be sitting with her father for an hour while she goes to yoga class, providing a sympathetic ear when she is weary, or enjoying a fun girls’ night out.
Best of luck to you and your friend, Julie!