Alzheimer’s Caregivers – the Unsung Heroes
Most often when someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, dementia or some other form of cognitive decline, the attention and care are focused solely on the patient. Unfortunately, the forgotten person(s) in this scenario is the primary caregiver.
The primary caregiver is often left with most of the household chores, finances, navigating insurance red-tape, coordinating medical care as well as providing the daily care needed for their loved one.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that caregivers of persons with dementia, including Alzheimer’s, provide billions of hours annually of unpaid assistance.”[i]
This is beyond a doubt stressful, draining and leads to burnout of the caregiver. “Dementia caregivers feel like they are on the clock 24-7 and often deal with disturbances in their sleep, resulting in a weakened immune system.”[ii] In fact, caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients can be prone to depression and a physical deterioration of their own health.
A startling statistic is that “30% of all care partners die before the people they are caring for do.”[iii]
Who will then care for your loved one?!
That is why it is vitally important for the caregiver to practice self-care. If you won’t do it for yourself – do it for your loved one. Because taking care of yourself will enable you to provide your loved one with better care. It’s that tired old metaphor of putting the oxygen mask on your face first before anyone else.
The first step in self-care is acknowledging when you have reached your limit or need extra help. Caregivers can be reluctant to speak up and/or give up some control over the situation. In a disease such as Alzheimer’s you actually have very little control, but that is when some caregivers double-down and try to be Superman.
But I would challenge you to identify ways you can help yourself, even if it is in small ways.
For instance, think about…
- Asking someone in your family to sit with your loved one two hours a week.
- Asking for help from a home health care agency a couple of times a week.
- Exercising to reduce stress. If the loved one is still mobile, try exercising with them to burn off some stress, even if it is just a walk around the block.
- Take a chore off of your plate. If you don’t want health care help, maybe have someone help out with the house cleaning/lawn care/home repairs.
- Food services. There are many great online services that will deliver food so you don’t have to go food shopping.
- Simplify your life. This can take many forms such as organizing drawers, closets, etc. Or set up an online bill pay plan so the pills get paid automatically.
There are many more strategies, but you get the idea.
One other area that caregivers suffer from is feeling isolated and alone. You may or may not have a supportive family and support structure. Regardless, it is priceless to speak with others who are in your shoes and understand your situation.
But how do you do that?
To help caregivers with this problem and to help them with self-care, I am starting a support group for caregivers called:
“It IS all about you!”
This is a 6 week program where we meet 1 hour a week – virtually. There is no travel required!
This is a BETA launch of this program – meaning this is the first caregiver support group I am holding. So for that reason I am only accepting a limited number of participants.
And I am offering this BETA program at 50% off the regular fee. After the BETA period, this program will run for $250, it is available now for $125.
The first support group will start running late June/mid-July. The deadline to register is June 25th, so sign up now.
Due to the limited space, if you are interested you will be asked to fill out a short application and I will let you know if you have been accepted into the BETA "It IS all about you" Caregiver Support Program!
What are the benefits of the program?
1. Put you first! Put together action steps for your own self-care.
2. Lift yourself up. Come away with a sense of empowerment.
3. Build a social network! Connect with people going through the same situation.
4. Develop a "coping" toolbox. Get real tips and suggestions on how to handle your particular issues.
5. Schedule friendly. Since we meet virtually there is no travel required.
What is included in the BETA "It IS all about you" Caregiver Support Program!?
Click here to find out more…I am interested
If you are a caregiver of someone with cognitive decline I encourage you to take advantage of this offer. OR if you know someone who is an Alzheimer caregiver then please forward this to them. You would be helping them cope with this disease – it’s the easiest, caring thing you can do for them.
Also, if you are interested there are some great books on the subject that I have in My Resources page: Alzheimer’s Resources
Until the next blog – I wish you good health!
[i] On Pluto, Greg O’Brien
[iii] Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s, Joanne Koenig Coste