10 Ways to Be a Healthier Caregiver
Courtesy of the Great Akron Alzheimer’s Association, Akron LIVING WELL Magazine
Care giving is one of the most challenging tasks you will ever take on. If you find yourself without the time to take care of your own needs, you may be putting yourself and your health at risk.
- Understand what’s going on as early as possible – Symptoms of Alzheimer’s may appear gradually. It can be easy to explain away changing and unusual behavior when a loved one seems physically healthy. Consult a doctor when you see changes in memory, mood and behavior.
- Know what community resources are available – Contact the local Alzheimer’s Association at 800-272-3900.
- Become an educated caregiver – As the disease progresses, new caregiving skills may be necessary. Learn about the about the challenging behaviors and personality changes that often accompany Alzheimer’s.
- Get help – Trying to do everything yourself will leave you exhausted. Seek support of family, friends and community resources. Tell others exactly that they can do to help.
- Take care of yourself –Making sure you stay healthy will help you be a better caregiver.
- Manage your level of stress – Stress can cause physical problems (blurred vision, stomach irritation, high blood pressure) and changes in behavior (irritability, lack of concentration, and change in appetite).
- Accept changes as they occur – People with Alzheimer’s change and so do their needs. They may require care beyond what you can provide on your own. Becoming aware of community resources should make the transition easier.
- Make legal and financial plans – Plan ahead and discuss legal and financial issues, including advance directives, wills, estate planning, housing issues and long-term care planning. Involve the person with Alzheimer’s and family members whenever possible.
- Give yourself credit, not guilt – Know that the care you provide does make a difference and you are doing the best you can.
- Visit your doctor regularly – Take time to get regular checkups, and be aware of what your body is telling you. Ignoring symptoms can cause your physical and mental health to decline.
Every 69 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s. Our helpline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in 140 languages. Our staff is highly trained and knowledgeable about all aspects of Alzheimer’s disease and we are here to help. Please call 330-864-5646 or visit www.alz.org/akroncantonyoungstown.