Family TipsFamily Tips
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia is challenging, discouraging and at times exhausting. It is our promise at Gurnee Place to be an advocate and a resource for you prior to making a decision to move your loved one into a memory care center and after. Please contact us at 210/497-5200.
In most cases, the primary caregiver of someone with Alzheimer's disease will be a loved one, a spouse, adult child, or close companion. This is an extremely challenging task even for those trained to care for those with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia.
Even in the early stages of the disease, caregiving is an extremely demanding, 24-hour-a-day task. Caregivers need to be flexible and understanding in dealing with changes in their loved one's behavior and personality. They must also be able to communicate with family, friends and professionals about his or her condition.
Spouses who are caregivers are likely to be strongly affected by a diagnosis of Alzheimer's, as they process the profound changes their future holds:
- Spouses often have their own health problems.
- Husbands and wives often must reverse roles and take on unfamiliar tasks.
- Depending on a couple's relationship, Alzheimer's can bring them closer together or it can alienate them.
- Spouses must accept that the person they have known and loved may change dramatically in personality and behavior, and there will almost without a doubt come a time when their loved one does not recognize them.
Adult children who are caregivers also need to adjust to the role reversal in caring for their parent. They may feel overwhelmed by the other responsibilities in their lives such as working within or outside the home and caring for their children.
As distressing as an Alzheimer's diagnosis can be, this is the time to begin to accept the future, build a support network, gather information to help alleviate fears and plan for the road ahead. Family members who do not live nearby should support the main caregiver and try to help with tasks that they can do where they are.
Guilt and distress are common for all. Please remember this is not something that you have caused nor is it something that you could have prevented. Gurnee Place is a resource for you at any time during the journey. Please call us at (847) 855-1380 if you need a comforting voice or encouragement.
Being an Alzheimer's Disease Caregiver
Caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease is often a stressful and demanding ordeal. If you or someone you know is a caregiver, it's good to remember that caregivers have human needs and emotions—and that they must care for themselves as well as their loved one. To help cope with the strain of caregiving, it is important to allow yourself to feel varying emotions (including negative feelings), express them, and deal with them.
Caregivers need to give themselves permission to be human. It is OK to:
- Be angry: Turn this energy into positive action. Clean a closet, take a walk, or talk with someone.
- Be frustrated: Stop what you are doing, take a deep breath, and begin a different activity.
- Take time out: Sit in a favorite chair in a quiet room, take a trip to the store, or spend a few hours out with friends.
- Ask for help: Explore family, friends, and local agencies for resource services. Many doctors' offices and clergy provide referrals.
- Recognize your limits: You are a valuable person. Take care of yourself, too!
- Make mistakes: No one is perfect, and mistakes help you learn.
- Grieve: It is normal to be sad over the loss of the way things used to be.
- Laugh and love: Now more than ever, it's important to have meaningful connections.
- Hope: Tomorrow, the day may go smoother, a friend may call, and new treatments may be found.
- CALL Gurnee Place at (847) 855-1380 for help.
If you're a caregiver of someone with Alzheimer's disease, you may greatly benefit from participating in support groups, some of which meet physically on a regular basis and others that interact virtually on the internet. Gurnee Place provides a monthly support open to the public. Please contact us at (847) 855-1380 for times and dates.
Both offer advice, information, resources and comfort. People in support groups have a common understanding of the issues facing caregivers in similar situations. Many members become like family or close friends as they discuss common problems, coping strategies, and caring for themselves as well as the Alzheimer's patient.
It's especially important to get encouragement and help from family and friends. You may appreciate getting together with other caregivers to discuss feelings and may seek offers to help with various tasks. As much as possible, family members should support one another, offer assistance and respite to the primary caregiver, and stay up-to-date on the physical and emotional condition of the person with Alzheimer's.
You may find caregiver training, support groups, and, in some cases, professional counseling to be very helpful. Gurnee Place provides caregiver training on a monthly basis free of charge. Please contact us at (847) 855-1380 for dates and times.