Being a caregiver for a dementia patient is a difficult role that takes an incredible amount of patience. For people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia it is important to have a person that will offer loving and understanding care.
The caregiver plays a crucial role in the life of the Alzheimer’s patient and it is common for the caregiver to be a spouse or other adult relative.
The caregiver is with the patient day and night which may result in a loss of sleep. They must also take care of themselves by eating nutritious meals and getting adequate rest. They will need additional emotional support as well as some physical activity.
The caregiver must be awarded time away from the daily challenges and demands of the patient. A time each day should be set aside for the caregiver to be alone, to exercise, take a walk, go shopping or just to rest. They must have an opportunity to socialize with friends and other family members.
Organizations such as the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, Meals on Wheels, visiting nurses, home healthcare or other community support organizations offer various means of support. It is important to gather as much information as possible concerning short-term and long-term assistance.
The stage of Alzheimer’s the patient is in should be considered when determining how much extra help the caregiver will need. Some caregivers may be able to tend to most of the needs of the patient but will need help with housecleaning, laundry or preparing meals.
The caregiver may need help with daily tasks of bathing, dressing and other personal care of the patient. When seeking assistance you must consider that some patients may be uncomfortable with a member of the opposite gender attending to their personal hygiene.
You will have to determine if the patient needs a structured routine or if they are more comfortable being with others such as friends or family members. Communication may become difficult and can result in anger, frustration or loneliness. Social isolation may occur for both the patient and the caretaker resulting in depression.
During the early stages of Alzheimer’s the patient is still able the to experience fears and hopes the same as others, therefore, some may require emotional counseling or medication to ease their fears.
As the patient reaches the final stages of Alzheimer’s, they may become much more difficult to care for and the caregiver may then be forced to seek outside assistance or the individual may need to be moved into residential care, such as assisted living or a nursing home. There are Alzheimer special care units (SCUs) that are designed to meet the specific needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Source: alz.org, Personal experience