The cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not currently fully understood and it is believed that different factors including genetic predisposition, brain injury, lifestyle or depression can be involved. Just as it can not be predicted who will be afflicted by Alzheimer’s, no one can know whether they will end up caring for a loved one who has been affected by it.
An individual taking on the responsibility of caring for a person suffering from Alzheimer’s disease should know that there can be many challenges and unexpected difficulties brought on by the changes in personality and behavior. A person afflicted with Alzheimer’s will have good days and bad days and that means the individuals caring for them will be sharing those ups and downs.
Learning as much as you can about Alzheimer’s disease and what it means be the caregiver for a loved one with it is the first step to being better able to handle what is to come.
Educating yourself about the characteristics of the disease will help you to better understand the symptoms and be aware of them as they happen. It will help you to recognize the stages of dementia and allow you to adjust your care appropriately. Preparing for the impatience, frustration, anger and disconnection that are often the effects or responses to the effects of Alzheimer’s disease will help you to deal with the difficult situations that will arise from them. Knowing the possible courses the disease may take will also help to prepare you for some of your own emotional responses to seeing it affect someone you care for.
Keeping yourself connected to resources of information such as your medical care providers, local community seniors services and even reputable online sources can help you stay on top of the latest caregiving methods or advancements. Social connections and communicating with others are an important part of maintaining your own mental health as well. Talking about the challenges of being an Alzheimer’s caregiver with family or friends or connecting in a more formal group environment with other caregivers will help keep you from feeling overwhelmed or alone. Finding support and hearing other’s experiences will help you to learn your own limitations and have a realistic understanding of what you will be able to achieve as a caregiver.
Being informed and communicating with others will help you stay positive but it is just as important to find a balance between your life as a caregiver and your life as an individual. Caring for a loved one can take over your world and wear you down if you are afraid to share the responsibility. A person with Alzheimer’s can sense and will reflect your stress and it will take a toll on both of you. If you are healthy, happier and more relaxed, you will be a better caregiver.
Taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do to provide the best care you can for someone you love.