Alzheimer's Disease Patient Caregiver Guide
Tips for Caregivers of a Person with Alzheimer's Disease
Caring for a person with Alzheimer's disease at home is a difficult task and can become overwhelming at times. Each day brings new challenges as the caregiver copes with changing levels of ability and new patterns of behavior. Research has shown that caregivers themselves often are at increased risk for
depression and illness, especially if they do not receive adequate support from family, friends, and the community.
One of the biggest struggles caregivers face is dealing with the difficult behaviors of the person they are caring for. Dressing, bathing, eating—basic activities of daily living—often become difficult to manage for both the person with Alzheimer's and the caregiver. Having a plan for getting through the day can help caregivers cope. Many caregivers have found it helpful to use strategies for dealing with difficult behaviors and stressful situations. Through trial and error you will find that some of the following tips work, while others do not. Each person with Alzheimer's is unique and will respond differently, and each person changes over the course of the disease. Do the best you can, and remind yourself to take breaks.
Dealing with the Diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease
Finding out that a loved one has Alzheimer's disease can be stressful,
frightening, and overwhelming. As you begin to take stock of the situation, here
are some tips that may help:
- Ask the doctor any questions you have about Alzheimer's disease. Find out
what treatments might work best to alleviate symptoms or address behavior
- Contact organizations such as the Alzheimer's Association and the
Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center for more information
about the disease, treatment options, and
caregiving resources. Some community
groups may offer classes to teach caregiving, problem-solving, and management
skills. See "For More Information" below to contact the ADEAR Center and a
variety of other helpful organizations.
- Find a support group where you can share your feelings and concerns.
Members of support groups often have helpful ideas or know of useful resources
based on their own experiences. Online support groups make it possible for
caregivers to receive support without having to leave home. The Alzheimer's
Association and other organizations sponsor support groups.
- Study your day to see if you can develop a routine that makes things go
more smoothly. If there are times of day when the person with Alzheimer's is
less confused or more cooperative, plan your routine to make the most of those
moments. Keep in mind that the way the person functions may change from day to
day, so try to be flexible and adapt your routine as needed.
- Consider using adult day care or respite services to ease the day-to-day
demands of caregiving. These services allow you to have a break while knowing
that the person with Alzheimer's is being well cared for.
- Begin to plan for the future. This may include getting financial and legal
documents in order, investigating long-term care options, and determining what
services are covered by health insurance and Medicare.
Viewers share their comments
Alzheimer's Disease Patient Caregiver - Experience
Question: Please describe your experience with an Alzheimer's disease patient.
Alzheimer's Disease Patient Caregiver Guide - Diagnosis
Question: Has a friend or relative been diagnosed with Alzheimer's? Please share your story.
Alzheimer's Disease Patient Caregiver Guide - Communicating
Question: Please share tips for communicating with a relative or friend who has Alzheimer's.
Alzheimer's Disease Patient Caregiver Guide - Eating
Question: Getting an Alzheimer's patient to eat can be difficult. Please share tips for meal ideas and routines.
Alzheimer's Disease Patient Caregiver Guide - Activities
Question: In what ways do you help your friend or loved one with Alzheimer's stay active and engaged?
Alzheimer's Disease Patient Caregiver Guide - Sleeping
Question: Do you deal with a restless Alzheimer's patient? How do you make sure he/she gets sleep at night?
Alzheimer's Disease Patient Caregiver Guide - Wandering
Question: Alzheimer's patients tend to wander. What steps have you taken to ensure his/her safety?
Alzheimer's Disease Patient Caregiver Guide - Nursing Homes
Question: At some point an Alzheimer's patient will need assisted or residential care. How did you select one?