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.
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:
- 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.
- Researching about your loved one’s condition, which can help you gauge how much you can contribute.
- Using adult day care programs.
- Finding the support of friends and family whom you can talk to about your situation and that of your parent.
- 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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