Help for Caregivers of Those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be stressful and difficult. With an estimated 15 million people in the U.S. caring for someone with a dementia-type illness, chances are that you or someone you know is facing this challenge now or will in the future.
The role of caregiver can be daunting, especially if you lack valuable knowledge about the disease or are unaware of community resources available to you. While it is often said that knowledge is power, it is just as important to remember that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. By educating yourself, seeking assistance, and taking advantage of available resources, you’ll be better able to care for both your loved one and yourself.Caregiver Education and Support Groups
Taking care of a loved one with dementia can be an isolating experience and may also lead to health-related issues for you; an estimated 30 to 40 percent of dementia caregivers report depression and high stress. A support group can help you feel that you’re not alone and allow you to learn from the experiences of others.
Learning as much as you can about the disease will also help you to handle many challenges. Do some research online and take advantage of free local courses such as the Caregiver Course offered by the Alzheimer’s Association through local providers like Day Kimball Healthcare. Course dates and locations are listed at communityresourcefinder.org. Adult Day Care and Memory Care Programs
These programs, which are particularly helpful in the early stages of dementia, often include supervised hands-on activities such as music and art, which may help to delay cognitive decline. They also provide respite time for caregivers. Medically-based programs may be covered by insurance, but non-medically based programs are generally an out of pocket expense. Some offer a sliding scale fee based on income and assistance may also be available through state programs and grants.In-Home Care
In-home care should be tailored to meet the needs of the individual and caregiver, as well as the stage of the disease. Non-medical home care (such as assistance with personal care and homemaking) may be covered by insurance. If it’s not covered, many agencies also offer income-based fee options or are able to access to grant funds to assist with covering a portion of the cost. Medically-based home care is provided under the direction of a physician and assists with issues like medication management, behavioral and safety concerns, and long-range planning options. Many home care agencies also have Palliative Care programs focused on managing symptoms, as well as Hospice programs that offer end-of-life care and support. Renee Smith is Executive Director of Day Kimball Healthcare’s In-Home Care division, including Day Kimball HomeCare, Day Kimball HomeMakers and Hospice and Palliative Care of Northeastern Connecticut.