Taking Care of Yourself As an Alzheimer’s Caregiver
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the disease affects more than 5.5 million people in the USA alone. Although the disease generally affects adults older than 65, up to 5% of all individuals diagnosed are in their 40’s or 50’s. It can be difficult to obtain an accurate diagnosis at a younger age because many of the symptoms may seem to be due to stress or anxiety. The disease can affect the brain at a rapid rate making it imperative to be able to spot the first signs so that treatment can be commenced immediately.
While it is natural to only focus on the person presenting signs of Alzheimer’s, you need to look after yourself as well. By nurturing yourself you are, in fact, doing the patient a favor because you will be able to provide better care if you are happy and healthy yourself. It is important to remember that you and not the person with Alzheimer’s is going to have to make a few changes. While many days will still seem ’normal’ it is imperative to plan ahead. As abilities start to decline you may feel that you can longer be the sole caregiver for the patient and that you might need assistance in doing so. Alzheimer’s can affect the brain at a rapid rate making it imperative to be able to spot the first signs of Alzheimer’s so that treatment can be commenced immediately.
How to take care of yourself while caring for an Alzheimer’s patient
· Don’t rush to give up your personal sources of stress release whether it is exercise, outings with your friends or just some quiet time on your own. Don’t discard anything that makes you happy thinking that you will simply return to it later on because chances are you won’t. You are about to face a range of constantly changing crisis and you need to have a source of happiness and motivation as well.
· Take care of your own health by eating healthy and going for regular routine check-ups with your medical practitioner. Invest in a good multivitamin that will provide you with all the nutrients you need during the emotionally-trying time you are about to encounter.
How to best assist the person in your care
Regardless of whether they say anything about it or not, people experiencing the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s are generally aware that something is not right. Some individuals may withdraw from everyday things while others become frustrated and show shorter tempers. The most important thing you can do for an Alzheimer’s patient in your care is to remain firm yet compassionate. Encourage them to continue using their skills, but avoid tasks that involve multistep sequences, timing, calculations and prioritizing. Adjusting to the new developments may prove to be very difficult at times but it can be overcome with a lot of patience and love.
It is important to realize that any erratic behavior and uncalled for comments are not done on purpose. It is the Alzheimer’s that causes it, making it imperative for you to learn to work with the changing brain of the individual in your care. An Alzheimer’s patient does the best he or she can. Cajoling or berating them will only lead to increased frustration and mistakes.