What to Know Before Caregiving for a Parent with Alzheimer’s

It can be very challenging to take care of a parent who has Alzheimer’s disease. The mental, emotional and physical demands are one thing, but one also has to think of the financial costs involved in such an important role.What to Know Before Caregiving for a Parent with Alzheimer's

Here are some important things you should be aware of before serving as a caregiver for a parent with Alzheimer’s.

What Caregivers Can Expect from a Parent with Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s manifests itself in different ways, depending on the person who is suffering from it. One person’s symptoms may differ from the others, and there can be drastic changes experienced over time.

For example, your parent may appear to be capable of going through their day-to-day lives on some occasions. But, there may be other occasions when your loved ones are extremely dependent on you, even for basic things. Medications can also have an effect on those with Alzheimer’s, and it is not uncommon for those with the disease to become petulant, immature or even dishonest when dealing with their caregivers. Remember that this is common when caring for your loved one with Alzheimer’s.

Symptoms will also become worse over a period of time. They can be controlled by medication, but not completely removed.

Further, there is the variable of depression, which could aggravate one’s symptoms and affect how your parent goes through life with Alzheimer’s.

Knowing Alzheimer’s Disease

The most important tool you need, on a broader level, is knowledge.  It is absolutely essential that you are aware of what Alzheimer’s is about:

  • Its symptoms throughout various stages
  • Ways in which you can mitigate these symptoms
  • Ways for you to help your loved one cope with their ailment

You have an important role to be aware of everything Alzheimer’s entails and having vast knowledge is part of that role.

There are programs available that could further arm you with the knowledge you need about the disease, and the internet is also teeming with fact sheets, online journal entries and blogs you can check out at any time.

Caregiver training could be a great help, as it could teach you how to deal with any unusual Alzheimer’s behavior and how to communicate with those suffering from the disease, among other things.

Tools for Taking Care of Yourself as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

There are definite trials and travails when caring for parents with Alzheimer’s, but you should always make it a point to take care of yourself like you take care of others.

This could be managed through several tools and techniques, such as:

  1. Asking other friends or family members to assist you in the caregiving process as you take care of work, exercise, run errands or do household chores.
  2. Researching about your loved one’s condition, which can help you gauge how much you can contribute.
  3. Using adult day care programs.
  4. Finding the support of friends and family whom you can talk to about your situation and that of your parent.
  5. Most importantly, use technology aimed to ease your complicated work. The Pumpic app for aging loved ones is one helpful technology that allows you to reduce online fraud and scam by monitoring your parents’ online activity. In addition, you can see real-time GPS location of your parents from your phone without having to worry why wouldn’t pick up the phone.

Other Things to Remember When Caregiving for a Parent with Alzheimer’s

One important thing to remember is that you do not have to do everything for your loved one with Alzheimer’s. Allow them to do the tasks they can handle, such as dressing themselves, but allow them leeway to finish the task on their own and at their own pace.

You should also make it a point to ask your loved one about living wills, do-not-resuscitate orders, and other matters as early in their Alzheimer’s progression as possible.

What did you learn after becoming a caregiver for a parent with Alzheimers? Do you have any other suggestions that were not highlighted in the blog article? Share your stories in the comments below.

About the Authors

Paula Green writes about “Ways to Help Your Parents Who Have Alzheimer’s,” and Mrs. Bing is an IT specialist and a caregiver for her father with the disease.

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Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • Lu Martin

    In my case, I didn’t have the time to research anything before I brought my mother home with me to take care of her. She became ill, admitted to the hospital, and the doctor there told me that my mom could not live alone anymore. I have a parent who is in denial that she has a problem, and REFUSES to allow the doctor to give her any type of test, and since he cannot give her a dianosis, she refuses to believe what I tell her. This has been going on for over 2-1/2 years now, and I’m exhausted. Right now I feel that my life means nothing to any one. I cannot understand why one life matters, and another one doesn’t. Everything doesn’t fit into a neat little package. Just saying.

    • loav8r

      Can you seek help from In-Home Care providers that specialize in dementia/Alzheimers? They might be able to offer solutions and help.

      • Lu Martin

        We have a person come in Monday-Friday to take care of Mom while I am at work, and she doesn’t have any special training in that type of care. I called the Agency for the Aging in Iowa, and they offered no help at all. Just told me to call the nursing home.

        • loav8r

          I bought into a franchise recently called Acti-Kare. I’ll be starting hopefully by April due to licensing in Florida. Although I’m new to this company I do know we specialize in this area of care. I don’t know if our company is in your area? Please feel free to look at our corporate website at http://www.actikare.com and review our dementia/Alzheimer’s help services. There are caregiver services that offer trained caregivers for your needs. I do hope you can find one that can help. Let me know if you need more help.

  • Elaine

    Do not try to convince your mother of her illness. She’s trying to make sense of what is happening to her, at this stage they are aware and try to give reason to what is senseless … By trying to convince her, you are trying to rationalize with someone who’s very disease is to be irrational.

    I found that validating my mothers fears and expressing empathy for her daily woes seemed to keep her calm and allow her to trust me so that we could get her care.

    I always tried to include her in conversations about her care and the direction we take. Even if it seemed she didn’t understand, she did. And at various points she was able to articulate her feelings.

    Even when her body laid mangled and her communication nearly null, when she did talk, she was on point and aware of what was going on around her. Always treat her with respect verbally and in actions, do not talk as if she is I. The room. Explain to her what you’re doing when moving her, feeding her, changing her… What ever the activity treat her as a participant in her life.

    I felt like my parents are equivalent to special needs children. I want to make this time as wonderful as possible for them as their disease in and of itself is enough for them to contend with.

    Always be patient, if they don’t want to eat something, offer something else. Remember change is difficult for them, try to maintain stability in their environment, tell them stories, talk a little slower and pause to allow them to process.

    Your life will come to a halt, but the reward is worth it. We don’t always have an opportunity to give back — to give and do for our parents when they are most vulnerable is a gift of love.

    Help? I’ve hired help for them, but you still need to micromanage care. Just plan on it.

    Hope this helps

About The Author

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