Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s is a challenging task that is not a one person job. No one is capable of caring for someone 24/7, alone. If you are caring for a loved one who has dementia, you will need to learn to ask for help.
In the early stages of dementia, you may be capable of caring for a person with Alzheimer’s by yourself. Depending on how quickly the dementia progresses, this phase could last months or years. Eventually, they will need assistance with basic, daily tasks, like eating and using the bathroom. As your caregiving role increases, it becomes more demanding, both physically and emotionally. Your loved one may also develop many new dementia related behaviours that will tax your patience.
The sustained stress of caring for your loved can affect your own health. The round-the-clock demands of caregiving may cause you to sleep poorly and neglect to set some time aside for yourself. Caregiving can also increase your risk of depression. All of this combined may cause you to drift away from family and friends, leading to isolation and loneliness.
How to ask for help
Dementia is progressive and its symptoms get worse over time. Taking on the task of caregiving alone can diminish the quality of the care you are providing. It’s essential to reach out for support to prevent caregiver burnout. Here are some important points to remember
Be realistic. Remember that asking for help doesn’t mean you are selfish or inadequate. There is only so much you can do on your own.
Don’t be shy. You may be concerned that no one will be willing to help you, but you’ll never know until you ask. A few people probably will say no, but most of your family and friends may already want to help, they just don’t know how.
Be specific. Ask people for help with specific tasks. Maybe a family member could help with sorting out your loved one’s bills and taxes? Maybe a neighbour could pick up some groceries for you while they’re out? Maybe a friend could take your loved one out for a stroll a few times a week? Consider the interests and abilities of those who are offering their help and suggest something appropriate. Or, let them choose from a list of things that need doing.
How to seek outside help
If the help offered by family and friends is not enough, seek assistance. There are many community resources available, including adult day programs and respite care facilities.
Home care services can offer your loved one expert caregiving in their own home, as well as help with household tasks and day-to-day living. This will provide support for both you and your loved one.
Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s is a process that may continue for years. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Find all the assistance available so you can stay strong for the journey.