tree, memory, dementia

Staying Grounded When Caring For an Alzheimer’s Patient

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, so if you care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s in hospice care in San Francisco and elsewhere, we would like to talk about how to stay grounded while doing so. We know how frustrating and draining it can be to give so much of yourself to another, especially when they can’t remember who you are or don’t realize what’s happening to them. But caregiving can also be a very rewarding experience. You just have to remember to take care of yourself and remain as grounded as possible.

Your Support Makes All the Difference

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is not easy, not by a long shot. It can be a long, emotional, and stressful journey. But always remember: you are not alone. In fact, did you know that more than 16 million people in the U.S. care for someone with dementia according to Help Guide? No, there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, but this just means your support as a friend or family member is even more important and can make all the difference in the world when it comes to the quality of life of your loved one.

Caregiving can be rewarding when you get into the groove of reconnecting and bonding with your parent or other family member. But there’s no doubt that this job has the ability to quickly consume your life, to the point that your own social life, family, and job suffers due to lack of attention. As a result, it’s easy to lose yourself along the way and you may not realize it till much later when the damage has been done. In fact, you may start to neglect your own well-being and physical and mental health.

The caregiving burden certainly brings physical effects to the forefront, boosting your risk of health problems such as headaches, fatigue, and weight loss. There are also emotional effects as well, such as the risk of burnout, depression, and anxiety. To make sure you don’t get caught up in all that, seek help and support — whether you think you need it or not. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness — it’s a sign of your strength.

Tips For Coping and Staying Grounded

You want to provide the highest level of care for your loved one with Alzheimer’s, to be sure. But you also have to take good care of yourself. Becoming overburdened means both your quality of life and that of your loved one will suffer.

  1. Get in Touch With Community Resources

Take advantage of the resources available in your community. Hire in-home caregivers who are skilled in memory care, sign them up for meal delivery services, or enroll them in an adult day program, advises the Alzheimer’s Association.

  1. Take Care of Yourself

Know the signs of stress and ask your physician for help so your own physical and mental health doesn’t take a hit in the process. Is the stress of caregiving starting to affect your health? Are you neglecting your own needs, job, and family? Seek professional help in the form of counseling or therapy, or try to use some relaxation techniques to relieve stress. This can range from yoga and meditation to breathing exercises and visualization. Eat well, make time for your own friends and family, exercise every day, and consider signing up for in-home respite care for a much-needed break regularly.

  1. Educate Yourself

As a family caregiver, you’re probably not a professional caregiver, social worker, or nurse. You did not ask to be thrust into this role, so you may not understand all the medical terminology, standards of care, and stages of Alzheimer’s. If you are not familiar with providing dementia care, this can be an overwhelming experience. But you can always learn and expand your knowledge by speaking with your parent’s in-home caregivers, asking for tips, observing their behavior, and talking to their doctor. Read books and explore community resources to familiarize yourself with the disease as much as possible.

  1. Make Plans

It’s stressful when you don’t know what the future holds — for yourself or your loved one. Having a solid plan in place — at least of the basics — gives you peace of mind. Talk with your loved one, ideally right after diagnosis, and get them involved so they can participate in the plan and provide input. Call an attorney for help who specializes in areas like elder law or estate planning, and then meet with a financial advisor who knows all about long-term care planning.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

Here at Pathways Home Health and Hospice, many patients in our hospice program suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Our caregivers are compassionate and are dedicated to providing the highest quality care possible. We also know our services help to give family members a break from caregiving. Find out how we do that when you contact us at 888-978-1306.