Taking care of a loved one who has
Alzheimer's disease or another
dementia can be a difficult, stressful, and tiring
job. It affects the caregiver's health and ability to rest and can be a source
of stress and conflict for the entire household.
The demands of
caring for a person who has dementia may cut off caregivers from friends,
leisure activities, and other responsibilities. For a caregiver who has health
problems, the physical and emotional strain of caregiving can make those
problems worse. Fatigue, depression, and sleep problems commonly develop, and
caregivers often carry an added emotional burden of feeling worried, guilty,
and angry about taking care of the person.
Health care providers throughout the United States are making a concerted effort to improve hospice care and palliative treatment in terminally ill patients with Alzheimer's disease. Palliative care is treatment designed to relieve or reduce the intensity of uncomfortable symptoms without trying to cure the underlying disease.
Palliative treatment may involve the use of medicines or surgery to control symptoms such as pain, nausea, and shortness of breath. The primary care doctor will help guide...
If you are a caregiver,
you can benefit by learning as much as you can and taking care of
Learn all you can about the type of dementia
your loved one has and what the future may bring. Organizations such as the
Alzheimer's Association and the Family Caregiver Alliance can provide
educational materials as well as information on support groups and services.
For contact information, see the Other Places to Get Help section of the topics
Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia.
Find out what services your
community has to offer. Many offer education, counseling, and respite services
such as adult day care and home health aides.
Find a support group
in your area. Support groups allow caregivers to share their experiences and
exchange practical information on coping with the disease and caring for the
Care for yourself
Take care of your health. The demands of
caregiving can be both physically and emotionally draining. Be sure to eat
healthy foods and get enough rest and exercise.
Recognize that it
is normal to feel anger, guilt, grief, frustration, and helplessness. These
feelings are a sign that you need to take a break from caregiving, even if it's
just for an evening to attend a support group.
Don't carry the
entire weight of caregiving on your shoulders. Discuss caregiving
responsibilities with family and interested friends.
Take time for
yourself. Respite services provide someone to stay with the person for a short
time while you get out of the house for a few hours. You also may be able to
arrange a short stay in a nursing home for your loved one while you address
your own medical and other needs.