Caregiving for Someone with Alzheimer’s
Caregivers play a profound role in supporting the wellness of those with Alzheimer’s disease, taking on a myriad of responsibilities. Known as the most common cause of dementia, this condition can cause people to experience memory loss that is disruptive to everyday life. Furthermore, the progressive nature of Alzheimer’s disease can leave those with the condition with memory or cognitive problems that can make it difficult to perform tasks independently. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 80% of people with Alzheimer’s disease are cared for in their homes. In many cases, caregivers may be friends or family members. Regardless of the relationship, being a caregiver to a person with Alzheimer’s is no easy task.
Although caregiving for someone with mild dementia or Alzheimer’s can be tough, caregivers also have one of the most rewarding jobs. Below, this guide will dive into the role of caregiving for someone with this condition, providing insight into what to expect and where to seek support.
Everyday Duties of a Caregiver
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease may require you to wear many hats. As a caregiver, you may be responsible for transporting the individual to and from doctor visits or errands throughout the area. Caregivers often help reinforce daily routines and supporting activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, and eating.
In addition, you will also be responsible for ensuring the safety of someone in your care, keeping a watchful eye for wandering. Many people with Alzheimer’s also need help with reminders, such as medication reminders.
Tips for Caregiving
Alzheimer’s disease can vary quite a bit from person to person, which means each person may experience different symptoms. However, caregivers can look to these general tips to help improve the daily routine of the loved one in their care:
- Promote Independence: Whenever possible, promote autonomy and independence for the person in your care. For example, when bathing or dressing, allow the person to do as much as possible. This can help promote an improved mood and sense of independence.
- Keep to a Schedule: Although not always possible, keeping to a consistent schedule can be helpful for those with Alzheimer’s. This means serving meals around the same time each place, keeping to familiar settings.
- Focus on Diet: A nutritious, well-rounded diet with a balance of protein, fats, and carbohydrates is important for brain health.
What to Expect as a Caregiver
Knowing what to expect can also help you to prepare for caregiving duties. While caring for a person with Alzheimer’s can be extremely rewarding, you may experience unforeseen frustrations too. For example, some patients with Alzheimer’s may become angry or anxious, leading them to escalate. Understand that these are symptoms associated with the condition and aim to remain patient whenever possible.
Some individuals with Alzheimer’s may experience language difficulties, struggling to find the words to complete sentences. As a caregiver, it is normal to become frustrated or angry at times. Developing patience and finding tactics to improve communication can help in these cases. Some tips and tricks include:
- Keep cherished objects and photos around to provide comfort.
- Build quiet time into daily schedules for decompressing.
- Speak calmly and slowly.
- Respect space and boundaries.
- Encourage a two-way conversation.
Seeking Support and Practicing Self-Care
Supporting the needs of a person with Alzheimer’s disease can be taxing, both physically and emotionally. This means caregivers need and deserve support too! Be patient with yourself, as it can take some time to adapt to caregiving and the changing nature of this condition. Explore these resources, which offer a way to connect with support services. Respite care services can give you a short break to practice self-care, helping you to maintain your own health. Spending time outdoors, exercising, and hanging out with friends and family can serve as positive forms of self-care to help you prevent caregiver burnout.
Explore Clinical Trials and Research
As a caregiver, staying up-to-date with Alzheimer’s clinical trials and clinical research can help you support your loved one. M3 Wake Research is conducting a variety of research trials that require participants with Alzheimer’s or Early Alzheimer’s Disease. These clinical trials can help advance research, helping individuals with this condition worldwide. To learn more, view our full list of clinical trials.