Tag Archives: caregiver

Tips for caregivers during National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

It is not easy to care for a person with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. Frankly, it can be challenging. People with dementias might stop recognizing their caregiver or even have trouble feeding themselves, using the restroom or bathing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are now the sixth leading cause of death overall and the fifth leading cause of death among those over age 65. The CDC says nearly 6 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s, a number predicted to nearly triple by 2060.

As the number of people with Alzheimer’s continues to increase so will the need for caregivers. And those caregivers will need guidance and resources to meet the challenge.

Tips for caregivers

With November being National Alzheimer’s Month, this is a good time to encourage caregivers and provide them with helpful tips. Here are some tips from the CDC website:

You might not be recognized. Sometimes people with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia may forget certain people while remembering others. Try not to take it personally if you aren’t recognized.

Try to meet the person where he or she is. It’s best not to correct an Alzheimer’s patient about what year it is, where they are, or other things. This can cause agitation and reduce trust.

Routine is important. Alzheimer’s patients are usually most comfortable with what they know and are familiar with. Try to avoid major changes.

Discuss behavioral changes with the doctor. Some behaviors, such as aggression, can be related to undertreated pain, or may be side effects of various medications.

Above all, practice self-care. Your loved one needs you to be healthy to provide the best possible care.

More information and resources

The CDC provides various resources for caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias, including Dementia Dialogues — a program that began with the University of South Carolina’s Prevention Research Center.

Visit the CDC’s website for more information and resources for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s.

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and Family Caregiver Month

By Michele James
S.C. Dept. of Health & Environmental Control
Division of Healthy Aging

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and Family Caregiver Month. Given the close relationship between the two observances — many with Alzheimer’s are fortunate to have committed caregivers — it seems natural for them to occur during the same month.

Raising awareness about Alzheimer’s

The Division of Healthy Aging is partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease and evidence-based messages about risk reduction.

From 2000 to 2010, South Carolina’s older adult population grew by 32.1 percent, putting the state in the top 10 fastest growing older adult populations.  South Carolina has the 6th highest Alzheimer’s disease rate in the nation.  In 2015, 17.3 percent of South Carolinians 65 and older had Alzheimer’s  disease; by 2025 the percentage will go up to 48.1 percent.

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, a general term used to describe various diseases and conditions that damage brain cells. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Other types include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia. In some cases, a person may have more than one type and are said to have mixed dementia.

The most important risk factors — age, family history and heredity — can’t be changed, but emerging evidence suggests there may be other factors we can influence. Research has found the health of the brain is very closely tied to the health of the body, particularly the heat.  They have found conclusively that high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity all confer greater risk for cognitive decline. However, evidence also suggests that combining good nutrition with mental, social and physical activities may have a greater benefit in maintaining or improving brain health than any single activity.

‘Take Care to Give Care’

November is National Caregivers month and the theme is “Take Care to Give Care.” There are 90 million caregivers in the United States who provide full-time or part-time care for someone with an illness, injury or disability. Caregiving has its rewards, but it can be physically and emotionally taxing.

Meeting the needs of others can mean that caregivers neglect their own wellness by not getting adequate rest or proper nutrition. Studies show caregivers are twice as likely as the general population to develop chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes asthma and other health problems due of prolonged stress.

So this November let us take the time to show our appreciation for caregivers and encourage them to take care of themselves.  Here are some things caregivers can do to relieve stress and look out for themselves:

  • Work hard to maintain personal interests, hobbies and friendships.
  • Allow yourself not be the perfect caregiver. Set reasonable expectations to lower stress.
  • Delegate some caregiving tasks to other reliable people.
  • Take a break. Short breaks, like an evening walk or relaxing bath are essential.
  • Don’t ignore signs of illness. Take Care to Give Care!

For more information/resources on caregiving, please visit: cdc.gov/aging/caregiving/resources.htm

For specific information on caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease visit the SC Alzheimer’s Association Chapter at alz.org/sc or call the toll free number 1-800-272-3900.

Also, please visit the Alzheimer Association Training and Education Center to find free online courses training.alz.org/home.

November is National Family Caregivers Month

By Michele James, MSW, Director, DHEC Division of Healthy Aging

Family_Caregiver_iStock_000040216862_Large

November is National Family Caregivers Month, a great time to honor and support the 65 million Americans who unselfishly provide care for elderly and/or disabled loved ones who have chronic conditions ranging from cancer, stroke, or arthritis to Alzheimer’s disease, which is the among the top ten leading causes of death in the United States. It often happens that a spouse or an adult child ends up serving as the primary caregiver, gradually taking on more responsibility as a senior’s needs change. Family caregivers assist with personal care, provide transportation, act as medical advocates, and offer emotional support for those who cannot live independently, and they do this while managing the demands of their personal lives, their jobs, and their families.

Here are some great ways to express your thanks and gratitude to the caregivers in your family:

  • Tell them in words. They can’t read our minds! Take time for a conversation or to write a letter expressing your appreciation of the important role they play.
  • Listen. Caregiving can create a sense of isolation. Ask how the caregiver is doing. Check in regularly.
  • Ask how you can help. Most caregivers have a wish list when it comes to balancing their caregiving duties with their work, family and personal responsibilities—but it can be hard for them to ask for help.
  • Enlist everyone. Encourage the caregiver to share information about your loved one’s needs. Brainstorm solutions to spread out the load.
  • Bring in a professional. If the family conversation isn’t going well, or family members are stumped about what to do, it’s worth it to bring in outside help.
  • Arrange for support services. If family members have the time and ability to help out with care tasks, set up a schedule. If family can’t do it all, help the caregiver locate professional services.
  • Hire in-home care. Arranging for home care services can be the very best way to lighten the caregiver’s workload and stress level, while providing peace of mind for everyone in the family. Families who share the cost of these services often find that in-home care is an affordable solution—even an economic advantage if it allows caregivers to continue in their own careers.

These people, so vital to our nation’s senior care system and to their loved ones, often put their own physical, emotional and financial wellbeing at risk. Sometimes, before anyone notices what’s happening, the senior’s care needs increase so much that the wellbeing of the caregiving family member suffers. They may neglect their own health and wellness routine. They may cut back on their hours at work or leave their job entirely. They are at higher risk of depression and other stress-related conditions. Caregivers’ stress levels and associated mental and physical decline can affect the quality of care that they are able to provide which, in turn, can result in increased suffering for the already vulnerable care recipient.  For more information, visit the National Council on Aging or Right At Home.