Every 70 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s and in 2006, there were 26.6 millions sufferers worldwide. The disease is predicted to affect 1 in 85 people by 2050. That’s why we are taking a closer look in our latest blog series to not only identify key symptom and the stages of Alzheimer’s but also to identify what family caregivers and loved ones can do for someone who is living with this disease.
So what is Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)? Imagine losing your memory so severely you forget your name and the names of those you love. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, which is serious loss of cognitive ability in a previously unaffected person, beyond what may be expected from normal aging. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, which worsens as it progresses and eventually leads to death. Most often, AD is diagnosed in people over the age of 65, but early-onset Alzheimer’s can occur much earlier.
While AD is a difficult affliction which causes great stress on caregivers and families alike, here are some tips for caregivers during these difficult circumstances:
- Organize your efforts to provide care and support for a loved one.
- Having a plan for getting through the day can help caregivers cope.Do the best you can, and remind yourself to take breaks.
- Ask the doctor any questions you have about AD. Find out what treatments might work best to alleviate symptoms or address behavior problems.
- Contact organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association, http://www.alz.org, and the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center, http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers, for more information about the disease, treatment options and caregiving resources. Some community groups may offer classes to teach caregiving, problem-solving and management skills.
- Find a support group where you can share your feelings and concerns. Online support groups make it possible for caregivers to receive support without having to leave home. The Alzheimer’s Association and other organizations sponsor support groups.
- Study your day to see if you can develop a routine that makes things go more smoothly. If there are times of the day when the person with AD is more cooperative, plan your routine to make the most of those moments.
- Consider using adult daycare or respite care services to ease the day-to-day demands of caregiving.
- Begin to plan for the future. This may include getting financial and legal documents in order, investigating long-term care options and determining what services are covered by health insurance and Medicare.