Millions of Family Caregivers help the 5 Million Americans with Alzheimer’s Dementia

Alzheimer’s dementia is the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer's DementiaCaregivers are mostly family members; spouses and adult children. Dementia is the catch all phrase for memory loss and cognitive impairment. Alzheimer’s dementia progresses over many years. Short term and long term memory is affected as the disease progresses as do the parts of our minds/brains which do our thinking, planning, houses our judgement and problem solving capabilities.

The Primacy Care Partner – spouse, son or daughter is responsible for their loved one’s care, managing finances, schedules, household tasks as well as caring for themselves. This is particularly important when the well spouse is in their 80s themselves and may have their own health concerns. Accepting or arranging for help with caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s dementia becomes crucial as time goes on.

Hints for the Family Care Partner:

-Patience is key – develop it, learn it and practice it.

-Attend a Caregiver Support Group to learn from others in your shoes and new information.

-Consider a Day Care Program, if the time isn’t right, try several more times later.

-Calm tones, smiling, maintaining eye contact all reassure your loved one. Non-Verbal cues may mean more than language.

-Consider what is truly important and discard the rest.

-Join the Alzheimer’s Association or other similar organization.

-Hire help when you need a break. Routine is very important for you and the person with AD.

AD affects the whole family since it affects you directly. Enlist help from family, friends, volunteers or paid caregivers. Heroes don’t last in this disease.

Forget open ended questions, give a choice OJ or Water, rather than what you’d like to drink.

Same with getting dressed, give direct instructions… put on your underwear, your shirt, and your pants. Telling someone to get dressed when they can no longer sequence is unproductive.

Refrain from arguing or reasoning, it is the disease, not the person which is causing the difficulty. When someone loses mental capacity, they cannot reason any longer.

As the primary care partner, take care of yourself, your health, your social contacts, you need to recharge too.

Meet with an Elder Law Attorney to plan for the future.

Get educated and have your immediate family get educated.

Caregivers, whether family or hired aides, make the difference in keeping a loved one at home for as long as is viable. Alzheimer’s disease is this generation’s and the Boomer’s biggest scrooge. Until diagnosis and treatment improve, let alone a cure or prevention, we must use the tools we have.