Elderly female hand holding hand of young caregiver.

How to Support Alzheimer’s Family Caregivers

Caregivers, whether family, friends or a hired service, play a vital yet challenging role in our lives as we age. This is especially true for caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Accounting for 60-80% of dementia cases, Alzheimer’s is a crippling disease affecting older adults along with their families and caregivers. As the disease progresses, each day becomes more challenging than the last and caregivers, who are often family members, watch their loved ones not only forget who they are but also witness their inability to physically and mentally complete simple tasks like speaking, walking, and swallowing. For family caregivers, this can be especially heartbreaking. Therefore, we’ve compiled the following recommendations to support those caring for someone battling Alzheimer’s.

Challenges of Being a Caregiver for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s

One of the most common challenges caregivers face is dealing with the behavioral changes that occur with memory loss. Mood swings are common and as Alzheimer’s progresses, behavior can become combative. Different times of the day can also cause agitation. A common example of this is sundowning, confusion that occurs late afternoon and into the evening hours as it gets darker outside. Anxiety, aggression, pacing, or wandering can all be related to sundowning.

As Alzheimer’s progresses, caregivers feel increasingly isolated and need emotional support. Support groups such as the Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center offer tips and advice along with the latest research, news and various other helpful resources for caregivers and patients.

There’s also the matter of legal paperwork when it comes to caregiving. Family caregivers will want to ensure they have documents such as a living will, power of attorney, and possibly a healthcare proxy in place, in case they need to make decisions on behalf of their loved one. An elder law attorney can help family caregivers get the necessary legal and financial documents in place to be able to honor their family members’ wishes.

Talk About Caregiving During National Family Caregivers Month

November is the perfect time to have caregiving conversations. National Family Caregivers Month is dedicated to acknowledging and celebrating the caregivers in our lives, while also educating all of us about the challenges they face every day.

National Family Caregivers Month was first launched by the Caregiver Action Network (CAN), a non-profit organization that calls attention to the hardships caregivers face and highlights ways to reduce caregiver stress and prevent caregiver burnout.

If you have a friend or family member caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, reach out with a listening ear, a helping hand – or even a hot meal. You will be amazed at how a simple, thoughtful gesture like making dinner or bringing over a few groceries can brighten a caregiver’s day.

3 Ways You Can Support an Alzheimer’s Family Caregiver

Providing caregivers additional support can make a tremendous difference in their lives, but you may be uncertain of how to provide that much-needed support. Here is a list of simple but effective ways you can show these hard-working, compassionate individuals how much you care.

Check In

Start by checking in. Give them a call, send them a text message, or even stop by their home. Offer a listening ear and provide comfort. Being a caregiver can be a lonely experience, just knowing someone sees you and is there for you can mean the world.

Lend a Helping Hand

An excellent way to show your support for a caregiver is by lending a hand. Bring over dinner, offer to sort the mail, or even offer to briefly take over caregiver duties so they can have a break. Pick up prescriptions, run an errand or two, and ask if there are other items on the to-do list you could complete. If you have friends or family members willing, come up with a rotating schedule of visits or meal deliveries. Often, family caregivers won’t ask for help – even from their own family, so being creative and thoughtful can go a long way.

Respite Care

Being a caregiver can be as stressful as it is rewarding. Thankfully, there are many ways to reduce stress – and it starts with caregivers taking time for themselves.

Reserving a respite stay at a senior living community is a great way to offer family caregivers a break and maybe even take a little vacation. These short stays typically range from two weeks to one month, and they offer all of the benefits of a senior living community’s memory care lifestyle. Learning more about and researching respite care options is another thoughtful way you can support family caregivers.

Memory Care and Respite Care Options at Abbey Delray

Abbey Delray, a senior living community in Delray Beach, Florida, is proud to offer memory care, as well as short-stay memory care through a respite care program. Abbey Delray’s memory care offering features brand new, beautiful apartment homes, as well as a specialized daily activities program led by memory care experts. To learn more about short stay and residency options at Abbey Delray, including available apartment homes, we invite you to contact our team.