Caregivers play a pivotal role in the lives of people with Alzheimer’s disease. This can be extremely rewarding, and it can also be emotionally and financially taxing. While your main focus might be on your loved one, you must also take care of yourself. This article will explore ways to care for yourself and seek outside help when you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. 

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Considerations when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s

Being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s disease takes a toll on you in three main ways. It can be emotionally difficult to see Alzheimer’s change your loved one. In addition, your loved one’s care can be expensive. Finally, taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s is a major time investment.

Emotional considerations

Watching someone progress through the stages of Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult. It may feel like you are slowly losing someone you love while they are right in front of you. This is made worse when you are their caregiver. Caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease are more likely than others to experience depression. Most people who do not care for people with Alzheimer’s don’t fully understand this struggle. As a result, many caregivers of older adults with Alzheimer’s feel alone

As a result, you need emotional support when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. Relying on family in this challenging time can help reduce the emotional burden on yourself and your relatives. But, many people do not have this kind of family support. Family members may be far away or on bad terms with the caregiver or adult with Alzheimer’s. In these cases, outside support is crucial. 

Getting the kind of outside help you need can be tricky. Information is readily available, but emotional support is harder to find. Dementia caregiver support groups can help. Researchers have found that support groups can reduce depression and improve the mental well-being of caregivers. You may be able to find an in-person group in larger cities. Online meetings are also available if you aren’t close to one or going to in-person meetings is not feasible. You can try looking on the internet or social media for Alzheimer’s caregiver support groups in your area.

Financial considerations

Being a caregiver of an older adult with Alzheimer’s places a strain on one’s finances. Alzheimer’s care requires multiple visits, exams, and medications that can add up to an average of nearly $28,000 a year in the US. Many people have savings, retirement, insurance, or social security to pay for all or some of their Alzheimer’s care. But, not everyone has resources like this. Even if they do, they will need help managing their money as the disease worsens.

Caregiving is not cheap, even when the person with Alzheimer’s has financial resources. Travel expenses build up, such as fuel, food, and car maintenance. Making matters more difficult, caregivers may miss work due to their loved one’s care appointments or health emergencies. As a result, most caregivers can use some help with their loved one’s finances or their own.

There are several ways to get help paying for Alzheimer’s care. Sites like BenefitsCheckUp by the Alzheimer’s Association can help locate resources in your area. This could include direct funding or community-led care that is cheaper than private alternatives. People with Alzheimer’s can also consider financial tools like reverse mortgages and life insurance policy conversions, but only after financial consultation. 

Time considerations

Being a caregiver for an older adult with Alzheimer’s requires a time investment that escalates as the disease progresses. This can get in the way of work and family life. As a result, many caregivers find they don’t have enough personal time.

While you cannot skimp on your responsibilities, try to find ways to open up your time for yourself. You might want to cut back on some activities so you aren’t spreading yourself too thin. In addition, involving others in caregiving can help, such as family members or care professionals. Outside care can come in the form of assisted living or home care.   

If you are able to lighten your caregiving load, try to make some of that reclaimed time about yourself. Try to pursue your hobbies or relationships that have been put on the back burner. Finally, consider prioritizing self-care so that you are at 100% when caring for your loved one. Doing so can help you make the most of your time with them and when you’re on your own.

Changes in the role of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s

The kind of responsibility you will have as a caregiver for a person with Alzheimer’s changes as the disease progresses. In the early stages of the disease, a key point of contention will be the diagnosis. Many people do not want to know that they have dementia or are resistant to hearing it. As a result, many people in Western cultures are not informed of their dementia by doctors or their families. 

Moreover, early-stage Alzheimer’s comes with memory, emotional, and cognitive changes that can be frustrating and sometimes costly. They will need more attention to help them avoid dangerous or costly mistakes, like leaving the oven on or being scammed. This can be draining, but it can save trouble later on. 

As the disease progresses, your loved one’s care needs will grow. As a result, you will likely need to consider outside care at this point, as your loved one will need increased attention. At this stage, their symptoms are obvious and can be emotionally impactful. This is especially the case if they become irritable or erratic. 

In the final stages of Alzheimer’s, your loved one will need round-the-clock care and assistance with all functions of daily life. The high caregiving burden at this stage can be particularly stressful. Moreover, this is the time when caregivers must reckon with their loved one’s impending passing. Outside support is especially crucial at this point, such as memory care at a senior living facility. Seeking out psychological counseling is advised, if feasible. 

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can feel like it’s taking over your life. While it is important to focus on your loved one’s needs, remember that you can’t help others if you don’t take care of yourself. There are resources that can help ease the caregiving process and help you give the best care to your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.