Helping a Family Living With Alzheimer’s
The impact of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be overwhelming. An initial diagnosis can be extremely overwhelming for the person affected, and the family living with Alzheimer’s may need help. The family will feel the need to step up and help, but may not know exactly how.
As the disease progresses, big decisions may have to be made about care. Between treatment, living situation, and finances to support these aspects, a lot is bestowed on a family. They may have their loved one under their care for a good portion of the time after an initial diagnosis, but the transition from family member to caregiver is not easy.
A Few Ways You Can Help
First and foremost, you want to get educated with Alzheimer’s and how it progresses. If you are more familiar and aware of what is to come, you’ll more easily know how to respond when interacting with the senior diagnosed.
Think about the dynamic of the family involved. How old and able are the children of the senior parent? Are they still working a full-time or part-time work schedule? Paying attention to the possible needs and difficulties a family might have to overcome is the first step towards figuring out the best approach to helping out.
1. Stay in touch. Being in contact with them every week or every couple of days is enough to let them know that you are thinking of them. A call or a special card can be an option if you are not close enough to consistently visit.
A diagnosis in the family can affect everyone differently. For some, just lending an ear is what they need to help cope with what’s going on. Listening and providing support can be more helpful than many realize.
Be patient with those who feel the opposite, they may just want time to themselves in order to process their feelings. Adjusting to circumstances such as an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is different for everyone.
2. Find out what the family needs. Different responsibilities will likely be dispersed among different members of the family. Find out what is on their to do list, and if there are any tasks on their schedule, where you can offer a helping hand.
Whether it’s running to the grocery store, cooking a meal, or helping with household chores, anything that can lighten the load off the family is good to ask about. Even if they say they have everything they need or under control, the thought of simply asking will mean more to them than you know.
3. Spend time with the loved one. Involving the loved one with Alzheimer’s in conversations and activities aside from daily care will have an effect on their mood and happiness. Even if their cognitive ability is declining, keeping simple conversation will make them feel engaged.
Ask them to tell a story from their childhood, listen to music they love, or offer to do any sort of enriching activity such as art, a walk, or looking through a photo album. This can be a great time for the family to have some time alone or have a bit of a break
4. Involve outside activities. Suggest that the family look for outside activities for them to partake in. This can be while you offer to spend time with their loved one, so that way they don’t have to stress over finding another fill-in caregiver.
5. Organize or refer them to a support group. A number of support groups are out there that bring together families going through the same situation, and can give each other advice or needed help on aspects of care and how to manage the role as caregiver.
In-person groups are beneficial in the way of getting that face to face interaction and the chance to make new friends who know how to help, but online boards are also an option for those who may not be able to leave the home as easily.
6. Pay attention to burnout. Pay attention to the family members providing the care. Are they getting enough sleep? Eating okay?
The signs of caregiver burnout are something to be aware of. Not only does this put the caregiver at risk of declining mental health and physical exhaustion, but this could have a ripple effect on the level of care that the family member is receiving.
When Family Caregiving Becomes Too Much
You know your family better than you ought to admit. Every family goes through adversity, but with the onset of Alzheimer’s, it can bring more than what many can be prepared for.
If you observe any of these indicators of caregiver burnout, you may want to sit down with the family members affected and voice your concerns:
- Never-ending fatigue, even when well rested.
- Loss of appetite.
- Lack of motivation to partake in hobbies, interests, or visiting other friends and family.
- Sudden irritability and anxiety.
- Concentration and focus on tasks is more difficult or almost impossible.
Family-Oriented Memory Care Communities
If the situation advances to the point where the family is looking to consider moving their loved one to a memory care community, a lot of concerns will be standing in the way of that consideration.
Will my loved one feel at home?
Will I be able to be as involved if they are in the hands of someone else’s care?
These are common questions that surface. The family will want what’s absolutely best for their loved one, but at the same time may feel a sense of guilt that they cannot continue to carry on the caregiving role.
Focusing attention on the main benefits of the move is ultimately what will help them achieve acceptance and full trust of the outcome the move will bring. Memory care communities allow families to be relieved of the stress of caregiving, and be able to center time only on continuing to make quality memories together.
Therapies offered on-site contribute to a more enriching environment. Group activities with other seniors in the same level will allow them to socialize like they may not have been able to before. Nutrition is at the highest level at communities like Kensington Place, where our dining serves recipes filled with flavor and nutrients that work to support brain health.
Enough upfront communication and questions addressed with the staff at a community before the move-in will allow worries to be eased. Family involvement is encouraged and you can find out if activities and events are offered in addition.
Kensington Place offers two neighborhoods of memory care, bringing an individualized approach to all levels of memory loss. Our exceptionally knowledgeable and caring team promise to love and care for your family, as we do our own. If you or a loved one are interested in what makes us different, call us today to learn more.