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Alzheimer's Disease: Your Role as Caregiver

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Take Care of Yourself, Too

Use these tips to improve your connection to your loved one and your life as a caregiver:

  • Take time for yourself. Ask other family members, friends, or someone you hire to step in, even just for a few hours, while you run errands, get some exercise, or just relax. You can also look into adult day care programs in your area.
  • Learn as much as you can about your loved one's disease so you’ll know how you can help. You'll also understand what changes to expect in her behavior or symptoms.
  • Don’t do everything for him. People with Alzheimer’s can’t do everything they used to, but they can do some things with a little help. Let your loved one handle some tasks, like getting dressed or folding laundry. Give him time to finish it on his own, but step in when he needs help. Help him set goals for completing tasks, and celebrate when he reaches them.
  • Talk to your loved one about his family affairs. You should know your loved one's wishes about a living will, durable power of attorney, and do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order. Try to talk to him about these things as early in his disease as you can.
  • Don’t put your life on hold. Meet with friends, keep up your hobbies, and stick to as normal a schedule as possible. You’ll be more energized and are less likely to feel resentful in the long run.
  • Have someone you can talk to. You’re there to listen to your loved one and offer support. But you need someone to vent to, too. Talk openly and honestly with a friend or family member. Join a support group to share with others who are also dealing with Alzheimer’s. It helps to know that you are not alone and that other people feel the same things you do.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on January 24, 2015
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