When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it can put a great deal of stress on a family that might otherwise get along very well. The emotional impact of seeing a person you care for suffering the effects of such a devastating illness, coupled with confusion over how and who should provide care can create shockwaves through the lives of all involved.
Caring for a loved one with dementia may very well be the most difficult task some family members have ever had to deal with. Uncharacteristic behavior or conflicts might be a reflection of anxiety brought on by such a trying situation. Working as a group and being understanding and supportive of each other will help you, your family and close friends to stay positive in what can be a very depressing time. Sharing the responsibility will ease tension in the home and make life easier for your loved one as well.
Making a plan
Everyone involved should be honest and realistic about how they can contribute to the caregiving group. Not everyone is equipped to cope emotionally or physically with hands-on care. Some people are more sensitive than others and if they may not have the emotional fortitude, perhaps they can bring other skills or abilities to the group that are less trying but just as essential. Managing or contributing to financial or legal necessities, communicating with medical professionals, doing household chores, driving to appointments and running errands are all aspects that will need to be taken care of.
Incorporating the assistance of professional caregivers into your plan can alleviate much of the burden as you develop a system to provide the best care possible for your loved one.
A person in your caregiving team may realize that certain aspects or tasks prove to be more than they can handle and the individual requirements may need to shift. Meeting as regularly as possible will allow everyone to stay on top of the dynamics of the situation and allow everyone to express their opinions, concerns and ideas about how best to proceed. If the meetings regularly degenerate into conflicts, some form of mediator might be helpful. A social worker, home care provider or family counsellor without an emotional investment could be present to provide informed advice and help steer the meeting with a clear focus.
Staying in touch
If meeting regularly in-person is not always possible for everyone who’s made a commitment to be a part of the caregiving support group, there are plenty of communication options. Meetings can happen via telephone conference calls or using an online video conferencing service such as Skype. Individuals could send updates to a contact list via Email or Twitter. Creating a website, blog or a shared online calendar that the group could regularly access and update will keep everyone informed, scheduled and organized.
Topics for discussion at your caregroup’s meetings:
- Creating a comprehensive list of all aspects of care that will need to be covered.
- Dividing and sharing the tasks based on each person’s abilities.
- Organizing the logistics: the locations and schedules of everyone involved and when and how much time are they able to devote to the care regime calendar.
- Brainstorming: There are a great deal of aspects that will need to covered and it’s always helpful to have everyone contributing ideas and considering what may have been missed.
- Individual check-ins: Giving and receiving feedback is the foundation of mutual support and will help maintain family bonds when things are difficult.