Skip to content

50+: Live Better, Longer

Who's Caring for the Caregiver?

Font Size
A
A
A

continued...

One thing that doctors and caregivers agree on is that early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is important; however, few doctors have clearly communicated that the quick diagnosis is important because treatments are more effective when initiated early and that it's possible to slow the progress of the disease.

To bridge the communication gap, "doctors should call the caregiver back a couple of weeks later and check in to see if they have questions," says Reid.

And the phone works both ways. "The caregiver can call the doctor and make an appointment and ask questions then," she says. "If you don't understand something, ask."

Also, she says, call the Alzheimer's Association for support. That's one of the first things that Reid did when her mother was diagnosed, and it helped her find appropriate care.

Caregiving can be extremely stressful, says Steven H. Zarit, PhD, professor of human development and the assistant director of the gerontology center at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. As many as 70% of caregivers report some symptom of depression.

Most care comes from family members, including dressing, bathing, and watching so the loved one doesn't wander off, all the while balancing work and family responsibilities, he says.

"Learn how to manage everyday problem behaviors associated with Alzheimer's, such as formulating new responses when the patient keeps repeating questions," he suggests.

He also suggests mobilizing family support. New research shows that family meetings can reduce caregiver burden and family distress.

Another suggestion: "Consider adult care in or out of the home," he says.

Zarit has found that when a person with Alzheimer's disease receives outside care two days a week there's significantly lower care-related stress or depression for caregivers, a benefit that was maintained for longer than one year.

Still, just three of 10 caregivers receive outside help, and it may be because the cost can be prohibitive.

In the new survey, 88% of doctors said they provided information on where to find help and services, but just 31% of caregivers say they got such information.

"The idea that there's nothing caregivers can do to relieve their own stress is wrong," he says.

Today on WebMD

blueberries
Eating for a longer, healthier life.
romantic couple
Dr. Ruth’s bedroom tips for long-term couples.
 
womans finger tied with string
Learn how we remember, and why we forget.
man reviewing building plans
Do you know how to stay healthy as you age?
 
fast healthy snack ideas
Article
how healthy is your mouth
Tool
 
dog on couch
Tool
doctor holding syringe
Slideshow
 
champagne toast
Slideshow
Two women wearing white leotards back to back
Quiz
 
Man feeding woman
Slideshow
two senior women laughing
Article