Tips for Caring for Yourself When a Loved One has Alzeimer's Disease
The Alzheimer's Association recently reported that every 69 seconds one person develops Alzheimer’s disease, leaving more than 4.9 million family members and friends to provide care for their loved one. In recognition of National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists encourages all caregivers to practice self-care as they tend to a family member’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
After learning of a loved one’s diagnosis, family members can sometimes become so focused on their loved ones’ everyday needs that they overlook their own physical and mental health. Those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can do several things to not only help their loved one but also maintain their own health, including:
Put health first. Caregivers should take time to ensure their own well-being through enjoyable activities, respite from caregiving, and maintaining good health through diet and exercise.
Research Alzheimer’s disease. This will help you plan ahead and know what to expect as the disease progresses.
Show sensitivity and respect. Help a loved one maintain dignity by speaking to a loved one in the same way you like to be spoken to.
Plan visits to sit and talk. Consider visiting with take-out sandwiches rather than making a homemade meal that can quickly become an added stress. Most loved ones would rather spend time together talking than watching you run around the kitchen.
Be positive and set limits. When someone makes unreasonable demands or is inflexible, critical or negative, change the subject and focus on the positive. Explain what you can and will do and what you cannot. Set time limits for discussions of health complaints and then decide what merits action.
Find a local Alzheimer’s support group. You are not alone. There are a number of support groups that can provide respite, hope and reassurance.
A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in eldercare can provide emotional support during this trying time. You can find a local marriage and family therapist at www.CounselingCalifornia.com.