It can be difficult to take care of loved ones with Alzheimer’s. Many caregivers and families battle with hardships as a result of their new responsibilities. Other family members will experience emotions such as guilt, grief, and anger. In order to combat this, it is important to have a plan and to talk with family members about what they are feeling and how they can help.
The Impact of Alzheimer’s on Primary Caregivers
While many positive things may come from serving as someone’s caregiver, there’s no denying it can cause hardships as well. In fact, a recent study, “Family Caregivers of People with Dementia,” revealed 55% to 90% of caregivers said they had positive experiences, including feeling a stronger bond with their loved one and personal growth. However, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s may pose unique challenges:
Physical illnesses – Caregivers are more vulnerable to health problems and physical illnesses, which includes a higher level of chronic conditions, cardiovascular issues, poor sleep patterns, and more.
Financial Adversity – The cost for caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s may include medical consultations, pharmaceuticals, nursing care, and less working time due to caregiving duties.
Emotional Distress – Caregivers are more susceptible to psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety due to the increase in stress.
Social Isolation – Due to the demands of caregiving, leisure time becomes less frequent. Caregivers will sacrifice hobbies and decrease the amount of time spent with friends so that they can be there for loved ones.
How to Cope with a Loved One’s Alzheimer’s
With the physical and emotional hardships that primary caregivers often encounter, it is important to understand the possible consequences in order to adjust to the new normal. During this period, caregivers should learn how to stay healthy and maintain a good quality of living. An effective caregiving plan will include:
Support – caregivers will now need an increased amount of support, which may come in the form of help from friends and family, help with housework, or emotional support.
Alzheimer’s Associations – In addition to the support above, caregivers should look into local community resources, support groups, and health professionals who have experienced similar situations. This can be done through your local Alzheimer’s Association Chapter.
Caregiver interventions – these sessions should focus on a caregiver’s specific situation, include family counseling sessions, and some sort of telephone counseling. In some cases, these sessions in addition to a weekly support group lowered the symptoms of depression in caregivers.
Continue to do activities together – building memories and continuing to live a fulfilling life will help combat the challenges of caregiving.
Being a caregiver can be challenging, so it’s important to realize that protecting your physical and mental well-being will help your loved one get the care that they need.