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.