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Alzheimer’s Insights: November is National Caregiver Month

Scott Finley

We’ve got our clocks turned back and the days are shorter, but there is still plenty to do.

November is not only National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month but it’s also 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.

Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease on a daily basis can be both emotionally and financially taxing.  When you’re a long distance caregiver, the task can seem absolutely overwhelming.  However, there are some steps to take that can help the person and ease caregiver concerns.


Determine what services are needed if the person lives alone

  • Visit person to determine what kind of assistance he or she may need.
  • Is there appropriate and adequate food available?
  • Is the person eating regular meals?
  • What is the condition of the living environment? Has it changed?
  • Are the bills paid?
  • Do friends and relatives visit regularly?
  • Is the person maintaining personal care routines, such as bathing and grooming?
  • Is the person still able to drive safely?


Turn to others for help

  • Establish an informal support system of family, friends, and neighbors that live near the person to ensure his or her safety and give the long-distance caregiver peace of mind.
  • Ask that they regularly visit to check in with the person.
  • Ask neighbors to be alert to anything unusual such as smoke or an alarm coming from the person’s home.
  • Arrange for companion services or other support through faith communities, neighborhood groups, home health care services and volunteer organizations.


Make the most of visits

  • Make appointments with the person’s physicians, lawyers and financial advisers during visits to facilitate decision making.
  • Meet with neighbors, friends, and other relatives to hear observations about how the person is doing.
  • Ask if there have been any behavioral changes, health problems or safety issues.
  • Reconnect with the person by talking, listening to music, going for a walk or participating in activities you enjoy together.

When the person lives in a care facility

  • Communicate regularly with the care staff.
  • Work with the managing nurse, physician and social worker to agree on a time when to get updates on the person’s condition and progress.
  • Call family, friends or other visitors and ask for their observations about the person.
  • Set up an appointment in advance of visits to meet with all care staff who have primary responsibility for the person’s care.

And just a reminder – you can always get the latest information about the Association’s COVID-19 emergency preparedness guidelines for Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in long-term or community-based care settings here:

https://alz.org/professionals/professional-providers/coronavirus-covid-19-tips-for-dementia-caregivers

 

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.

 

Scott Finley is Media Relations Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association® in Texas.  He can be reached at scfinley@alz.org