November is National Caregiver Month, when we honor the nearly 15 million Americans who provide 17 billion hours of unpaid care to individuals living with this devastating disease.
In Texas, over 400,000 people are living with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, and well over one million more people serve as caregivers, often family members and often unpaid.
Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease daily can be emotionally and financially taxing, but there are things you can do to help a caregiver that will make a huge difference in their life.
First, educate yourself about Alzheimer’s disease, its symptoms, its progression and the common challenges facing caregivers. The more you know, the easier it will be to find ways to help.
Second, build a team. Organize family and friends who want to help with caregiving.
Third, give caregivers a break. Spend time with the person living with dementia, allowing the caregiver a chance to run errands, go to their own doctor’s appointments, participate in a support group or engage in an activity that helps them recharge. Even one hour could make a big difference in providing the caregiver some relief.
Fourth, check in. Many caregivers report feeling isolated or alone; a phone call, a note, or in-person visit can make a big difference in a caregiver’s day and help them feel supported.
Fifth, tackle the to-do list. Ask for a list of chores or errands, such as picking up groceries or prescriptions or doing yard work or tidying up around the house. It can be hard for a caregiver to find time to complete these simple tasks we often take for granted.
Furthermore, be specific and flexible. Open-ended offers of support may be well-intended but are often dismissed. Be specific in your offer and continue to let the caregiver know that you are there and ready to help.
Seventh, help for the holidays: Holiday celebrations are often joyous occasions, but they can be challenging and stressful for families facing Alzheimer’s. Help caregivers around the holidays by offering to help with cooking, cleaning or gift shopping.
Finally, join the fight. Honor a person living with the disease and their caregiver by joining the fight against Alzheimer’s. You can volunteer with your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter, participate in fundraising events, advocate for more research funding, or sign up to participate in a clinical study.
The Alzheimer’s Association leads the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection and maximizing quality care and support.
Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. Visit alz.org or call 800.272.3900.
Every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s. One in three seniors dies due to Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
Approximately 400,000 Texans have Alzheimer’s. Texas ranks fourth in the number of Alzheimer’s cases and second in Alzheimer’s deaths.
Scott Finley is the Texas Media Engagement Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association.