Guest Post by Vee Cecil
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia is stressful for even the strongest, most resilient individuals. When you know what resources are available to lend you a helping hand, caregiving can become more manageable.
Where Alzheimer’s Caregivers Can Turn for Help
If you’re a caregiver looking for help in the United States, check out these valuable resources. Share them with family members, too. Editor’s note: Elsewhere, you can find a host of resources in Britain at the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center and NHS Choices. In Australia, consult Alzheimer’s Australia.
- For immediate help, contact a hotline for Alzheimer’s caregivers. There are several organizations that offer hotline services, including the Alzheimer’s Association, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, and the VA Caregiver Support Line for caregivers of United States veterans.
- The Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center: From information on diagnosis and treatment to meeting the needs of caregivers, the ADEAR Center is a valuable resource. Find out where you can go for help in your local community.
- The Aging Life Care Association: Formerly the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, the association is a valuable resource for caregivers interested in getting help from a geriatric care manager. Find an Aging Life Care Expert who can assist with care arrangements, legal documents, suggest services that may help you, and assist in arranging for these services. Editor’s note: Especially helpful in situations where there is family conflict.
- The Eldercare Locator: A service of the US Administration on Aging, the Eldercare Locator is an excellent resource for finding information about community resources, such as adult day care options, home care, respite care, or nursing homes.
- Help with meal prep: Preparing nutritious meals is one of the primary responsibilities of caregivers, but it’s not always easy to prepare three hot, nutritious meals every day while also tending to your other caregiving duties and possibly working outside the home, as well. Meals on Wheels America runs local programs delivering meals directly to seniors’ homes. Find out if Meals on Wheels has a program in your area and whether your loved one meets local eligibility criteria. If not, check to see if your local supermarket has a grocery delivery program or see if Instacart serves your area. Also, know that eldercare facilities sometimes offer home-care options. For example, Carleton-Willard Village in Bedford, MA, offers an At Home membership service that allows seniors to stay in their own homes while ordering meals from the dining room or receiving home help with meal prep, chores, transportation, bathing and other home health care tasks, and more.
- The National Adult Day Services Association: NADSA “advances the national development, recognition and use of adult day services,” which “provide a coordinated program of professional and compassionate supervised services for adults in a safe place outside the home during the day.” Find adult day services centers near you, and learn about recent research that shows how utilizing adult day services helps caregivers.
- Family and Friends: Caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s are sometimes reluctant to ask family and friends for help because they don’t want to burden anyone else. But you should absolutely reach out when you need it. Even having a family member go to the grocery store for you, can be a huge help. When you’re able to share the responsibilities of caring for your loved one, you’ll have more opportunities for rest and rejuvenation, which will help you prevent caregiver burnout.
Why Alzheimer’s Caregivers Need Outside Help
You might be spending every waking moment tending to your loved one’s needs, and worry about them even in your sleep. That is, if you manage to actually get a decent night’s rest. Because you’re all-consumed by ensuring that your loved one is safe and comfortable, your own needs often become neglected in the process. Your social life may have slowly dwindled to the point of non-existence. You may have rescheduled your own healthcare appointments several times because you just can’t find the time for something as seemingly insignificant as an annual health checkup.
More than 15 million Americans provided an estimated 18 billion hours of unpaid care to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in 2014. While there are a variety of avenues that Alzheimer’s caregivers can take to seek help, unpaid caregivers deserve and need even greater options to help alleviate the tremendous amount of responsibility they take on. While they wait for additional help, I hope they’ll get some relief from the organizations listed here.
Contributor Vee Cecil is passionate about wellness for people of all ages and in every stage of life. She often studies the topic and shares her findings on her recently-launched blog, MyNewWell.com. She is also a Kentucky-based wellness coach, personal trainer, and bootcamp instructor.
Photo Credit: Top image via Pixabay by Antranias.