Help a caregiver during National Family Caregivers Month
Last updated 11/6/2019 at 5:20pm | View PDF
November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month. The Alzheimer’s Association is recognizing and honoring the more than 15 million people across the U.S. who are currently caring for a person living with Alzheimer’s, including the 588,000 Alzheimer’s caregivers here in Illinois.
According to a recent Alzheimer’s Association survey, people overwhelmingly agree (91 percent) that caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia should be a group effort among family or close friends, yet one out of three caregivers are not engaging others in caregiving tasks. More than four in five caregivers would have liked more support in providing care for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, especially from their family. With 15 million Alzheimer’s caregivers across the country, that leaves a lot of people in
need of support.
This November during National Family Caregivers Month, the association is encouraging people to lend a hand to caregivers with these tips:
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.
• Build a team
The Alzheimer’s Association Care Team Calendar is a free, personalized online tool to organize family and friends who want to help with caregiving. Helpers can sign up for specific tasks, such as preparing meals, providing rides or running errands. Users can post items for which assistance is needed.
• Give a break
Make a standing appointment to give the caregiver a break. Spend time with the person with dementia and allow the caregiver a chance to run errands, 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.
• Check in
Almost two out of every three caregivers said that feeling isolated or alone was a significant challenge in providing care for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. What’s more, half of all caregivers felt like they couldn’t talk to anyone in social settings or work about what they were going through. So start the conversation with a phone call, a note or a visit.
• Tackle the to-do list
Ask for a list of errands that need to be run — such as picking up groceries or dry cleaning — or offer to shuttle kids to and from activities.
• Be specific and be flexible
Open-ended offers of support (“Call me if you need anything”) may be well-intended but are often dismissed. Try making a more specific offer of help (“I’m going to the store, what do you need?” or “I have free time this weekend, let me stop over for a couple of hours so you can do what you need to do.”) Don’t get frustrated if the offer is not immediately accepted. The family may need time to assess its needs. Continue to let the caregiver know you are there and ready to help.
• Help for the holidays
Holiday celebrations are often joyous occasions, but they can be challenging and stressful for families living with Alzheimer’s. Help caregivers by offering to help with cooking, cleaning or gift shopping. If a caregiver has traditionally hosted family celebrations, offer your home instead.
• Join the fight
Volunteer at a local Alzheimer’s Association office, participate in fundraising or sign up to participate in a clinical study as a healthy volunteer.
— submitted by the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter, whose mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.