As we continue with our theme of Alzheimer’s Awareness, we’re here to share some special tips and resources for dementia caregivers. Caregivers are the unsung heroes in our society, ensuring a better quality of life for loved ones and often sacrificing in so many ways.
- 15.5 million family and friends provide care to people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias in the United States.
- In 2013, caregivers provided and estimated 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $220 billion.
Caregiving, can be very rewarding, but dementia care in particular can take its toll. Here are some stats about the impacts on caregivers:
- Due to the physical and emotional burden of caregiving, Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers had $9.3 billion in additional health care costs of their own in 2013.
- Nearly 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high, and more than one-third report symptoms of depression.
Good planning is essential to Alzheimer’s care. Having resources and information can ease your way as a dementia caregiver. If you and your family are facing Alzheimer’s (or even beginning the process of getting a diagnosis for memory problems), don’t hesitate to reach out to professionals and seek advice. Don’t forget, we offer a free eldercare consultation with our Senior Care Consultant!
Essential planning for Alzheimer’s care includes:
- Advance care and legal planning: completing advance directives such as a living will and healthcare surrogate/healthcare POA; estate planning and financial documents such as a will/trust and durable power of attorney; discussing care wishes and decision-making. **These items are key to aging planning in general and should be completed in adulthood and regularly reviewed. However, if the person has not done this prior to a dementia diagnosis, it may still be possible to complete the documents (the person likely has the level of competency/understanding needed in the early stages of the disease). Do this as soon as possible.
- Assessing needs and developing a care plan: this provides a solid baseline of the situation and person’s needs and sets out a strategy for what needs to be done now, what areas need to be addressed and how to handle them. A good assessment also prioritizes and anticipates future needs to minimize the impact of crises.
- Rallying the care team: this is the time to understand who can do what (and find out where there are gaps). This includes family, friends, professional caregivers and community resources. It also includes building a good medical team: identifying providers and specialists and starting relationships with them.
- Creating a resource bank: bookmark or make a list of quality websites (and consider following relevant blogs/social media accounts or signing up for newsletters, which can be easier than constantly seeking out the information), find good books and articles on Alzheimer’s and related topics and put together a list of contact information for relevant organizations/resources. It is so much easier to know you have that phone number when something comes up, rather than scrambling in an emergency. Online tools can make access easier, especially if you’re at a distance or might be traveling when you need the information.
Looking for a way to help an Alzheimer’s caregiver? Have people asking you what they can do to help you with caregiving? Doing some research and putting together resources is a great way that almost anyone can help. Your tech-savvy friend or family member could help do searches online and perhaps even identify and set up an electronic health record or care community for you. Check out a few of our tech recommendations for caregivers and tools for eldercare management.
If you are dealing with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis or dementia care issues, we welcome your calls at 727-447-5845. We offer resources, information and the solutions you need!