Alzheimer's caregivers need all the support they can get. If you know someone who's caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer's disease, here's how to help.
When someone you care about is going through a difficult time, you might say, "Let me know how I can help." It's a nice gesture, but such offers can be difficult to accept — primarily because they're not specific. Instead, make concrete offers of help.
- "I'm going to the grocery store. What can I pick up for you?"
- "I've got a couple of hours free tomorrow afternoon. May I sit in for you while you run a few errands or take some time for yourself?"
- "I doubled my meatloaf recipe so that I could share it with you. I brought enough to last you for several meals."
- "Do you need some laundry done? I can pick it up today and bring it back clean tomorrow."
- "Does your yard need to be mowed? I'd be happy to take care of it this weekend."
Sometimes sending a card or making a phone call to check in on a caregiver means a lot. Emails and text messages work, too — but often personal visits are even better. Contact with the outside world can help lift a caregiver's spirits.
Recognize signs of caregiver stress
Keep in mind that some caregivers have a difficult time accepting help, mistakenly believing they should do everything themselves. This attitude can be harmful not only to the caregiver, but also to the person who has Alzheimer's. Caregiver stress can lead to irritability, anger, exhaustion, social withdrawal, anxiety, depression and other problems.
If your offers of help aren't accepted, be gently persistent. Remind the caregiver that he or she doesn't have to do this alone — and the best way to take care of someone else is to first take care of yourself.