November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month which means it is a great time to remind yourself to encourage a family caregiver. Supporting a loved one who is living with any type of dementia is challenging, exhausting, and expensive. If you find yourself as a family member who is supporting a loved one with dementia, we are here to encourage and support you! Family caregiving is hard work and we see your determination and effort.
No matter if you are new to family caregiving or if you are a veteran of the task, we have a few things you can do today to support your loved one who is living with dementia.
Focus on Safety
If your loved one is living at home, safety should be the primary goal. Unfortunately, dementia can make it difficult to make good decisions, stay organized, and keep up safe habits. You can enhance safety by making sure your loved one has an emergency call system that they know how to operate as well as a system for regular check-ins with family members, neighbors, or friends.
It’s important to keep up with regular neurologist and physician visits as well in order to keep tabs on how the disease is progressing and what challenges might be on the horizon.
Set Up Nutritional Support
Dementia also causes serious nutritional challenges. Depending on where your loved one is in the disease process, they may struggle with meal preparation, grocery shopping, remembering to eat, or even losing their appetite.
Support your loved one by finding a way to set up nutritional support. For many people, Meals on Wheels can be a wonderful solution that delivers meals daily, which cues the person living with dementia to eat. Other options could include setting up meals for the week in your loved one’s fridge yourself or hiring home caregivers to take care of nutritional support during the day or evening.
Get Help on Specific Tasks
Family caregivers simply cannot do it all without suffering the consequences of caregiver burnout. But the good news is that you don’t have to. Rally your family members, neighbors, friends and local businesses to give you help to complete specific tasks that support your loved one. Here are a few ideas:
- Have a neighbor stop in daily to help out with medication management
- Hire a caregiver service to provide assistance with personal hygiene tasks and housekeeping around the home
- Ask another sibling to pick up medications monthly from the pharmacy
- Enlist the help of a physical therapist to do a fall risk assessment and write a checklist of projects that could improve the home…then find a local handyman to take care of it.
Increase Social Connections
Seniors living with dementia are at a higher risk of social isolation, and that isolation can lead to more rapid cognitive decline. Support your loved one by finding ways to fill their social calendar with meaningful visits with loved ones, friends, and neighbors. Look for programs to attend together at the library or senior center, keep up with favorite church groups, or simply schedule regular coffee dates at the local diner.
Find Ways to Take a Break
Finally, you cannot support your loved one if you are exhausted or sick yourself. Find a way to take a break from your caregiving role at least weekly. Write it in your calendar in ink, then find respite care services through CaringGivers. We are here to support you and your loved one. Our caregivers are ready to step in to provide the services your loved one needs to stay safe, healthy, and social. Call us today to talk more about your needs; we are happy to help!