In the United States alone, there are more than 16 million Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers. During National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness & Family Caregivers Month, we honor the people who serve as care partners and caregivers by providing tips for those looking to support these families living with the disease.
Whether you are seeking to support a person with Alzheimer’s or the person that cares for him or her, you will find helpful ways to lend a hand – in ways both big and small.
10 Ways to Help a Family Living with Alzheimer’s
1. Educate yourself about Alzheimer’s disease. Learn about its effects and how to respond.
2. Stay in touch. A card, a call or a visit means a lot and shows you care.
3. Be patient. Adjusting to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is an ongoing process and each person reacts differently.
4. Offer a shoulder to lean on. The disease can create stress for the entire family. Simply offering your support and friendship is helpful.
5. Engage the person with dementia in conversation. It’s important to involve the person in conversation even when his or her ability to participate becomes more limited.
6. Offer to help the family with its to-do list. Prepare a meal, run an errand or provide a ride.
7. Engage family members in activities. Invite them to take a walk or participate in other activities.
8. Offer family members a reprieve. Spend time with the person living with dementia so family members can go out alone or visit with friends.
9. Be flexible. Don’t get frustrated if your offer for support is not accepted immediately. The family may need time to assess its needs.
10. Support the Alzheimer’s cause.
For a person living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, the changes to their routine can be confusing and frustrating. And this can lead to agitation or other challenging behaviors, like Sun downing.
And, with the holidays just around the corner, feelings of loneliness and isolation can become heightened. All in all, everything about caregiving for a person with dementia is harder now. We hope you will join us this month in raising awareness about both Alzheimer’s disease and the impact on our caregivers.