By Kristine Dwyer, Staff Writer
Caregiving can produce a great deal of stress
that can lead to physical decline and emotional
exhaustion. The health of caregivers is at risk, yet
they often become the “hidden patients” while
focusing all of their attention on the person with
AD. Caregivers need to keep their own health in
check and visit their doctor on a regular basis.
Support systems must also be alert to signs of
caregiver burnout or depression and plans must be
made to provide respite to the caregiver. No one can
do it all alone. It is heartbreaking to watch a
loved one go through the stages of Alzheimer’s
disease and caring for them requires an abundance of
strength. Asking for help and taking care of
yourself cannot be overemphasized.
The Alzheimer’s Association assistance is available
nationwide and offers a wide variety of programs,
educational materials and support services to
persons with AD and their caregivers. Many
communities have a local or regional chapter and
offer regular education and support group meetings.
The Alzheimer’s Association also provides:
A 24-hour, tollfree (multilingual) Information
Helpline (800) 272-3900 that links callers to
information about AD, treatments, caregiving
strategies and local programs.
The nation’s largest Alzheimer’s library
including books, journals, cassettes, videos and CDs
that can be obtained through interlibrary loans at
your local library.
Internet support at www.alz.org, including online
chat rooms, research updates, brain health tips, the
new CareFinder program that assists caregivers in
planning care and finding support and the Safe
Return program, which helps families locate a loved
one who has wandered off or gotten lost. This
Internet site is set up to help families and
caregivers make informed decisions.Care
Consultation— one of the core services of the
Alzheimer’s Association (available in most states)
that assists the person with AD or related dementias
and their family in planning for, and dealing with,
all aspects of the illness experience.
In addition to contacting the Alzheimer’s
Association, consider care options such as in-home
respite care, adult day programs, home care
services, delivered meals programs, or chore
services. Keep a personal journal of your journey or
a medical journal to record helpful information for
yourself and the physician. Continue with activities
that are enjoyed. Maintain a network of support and
communicate your needs to family members, friends,
volunteers, and organizations to avoid isolation.
Join a caregiver support group to find hope, gain
valuable information from people who understand your
position and learn new ways to cope with the
challenges you face.
Alzheimer’s disease impacts the whole family. Like a
pebble thrown into the water, the ripples of the
disease touch the lives of everyone. The signs and
symptoms of AD can’t be ignored! Early detection and
current treatments can help maintain or even improve
memory, thinking and behavior problems plus support
the quality of life for persons with AD and their