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Understanding Alzheimer's: How to Support Your Loved One and Yourself as a Caregiver

We know how important it is to focus on mental health. We also know that having a supportive community of people who understand you is crucial.


In my last post, this post, and a future post I will be offering supportive words of wisdom and provide tips for caregivers to care for and maintain their own health. This includes stress management techniques and tips on coping with overwhelming emotions.

a caregiver supporting a loved one

The stages of Alzheimer's range from mild to severe and progressively worsen over time. As a caregiver, it's essential to learn ways to communicate with loved ones AND take care of yourself as cognitive decline develops further.




Focus On Strengths As a Caregiver


As a caregiver, you may need to take the initiative to determine how you may be able to help. Consider what your loved one’s strengths are and pick up the slack where they are lacking.


Some tasks you can perform while your loved one with Alzheimer’s is still independent include:


- Keeping appointments

- Remembering words or names

- Recalling familiar places or people

- Managing money

- Keeping track of medications

- Planning or organizing

- Transportation

a son supporting his loved one

"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage." ― Lao Tzu


How has becoming a caregiver made you a more courageous person?


Emotions You May Experience


Providing support to a person living with Alzheimer’s disease can be an emotional process. Emotions ranging from fear to hope can be overwhelming.

The Alzheimer’s Association has identified emotions you may experience as a care partner:


Denial

The diagnosis may seem unbelievable or difficult to accept. Short-term denial can be a healthy coping mechanism that provides time to adjust, but staying in denial too long can prevent you and the person with the disease from making important decisions about the future. It also can delay his or her ability to live a quality life. If you are experiencing denial about the diagnosis, your ability to help the person with dementia will be hampered until you can come to terms with the diagnosis yourself.

a son supporting his loved one with cooking

Fear

Fears about the progression of the disease and the challenges in providing future care can be overwhelming and can prevent you from focusing on the present.


Stress/Anxiety

Uncertainty about what to expect as the disease progresses and how to support the person with the diagnosis can lead to increased stress.


Anger/Frustration

Anger towards the diagnosis is a common response to feeling a loss of control over the future. You may resent how your role as a care partner will impact your life.


Grief/Depression

Sadness or loss over your relationship may also lead to feelings of hopelessness. Learn more about the symptoms of depression.


“To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors.” - Tia Walker


While it’s important to stay in the present, it’s also okay to miss certain aspects of how things used to be.


Communication Strategies


It’s essential to have effective communication when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Here is a resource to help: https://bit.ly/394NuqQ

a woman supporting her loved one

"And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together." -Robert Fulghum








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