Thursday, January 31, 2008

7 Caregiver Tips

Its a tough job. Seven tips to remember and use.

Carolyn Clifford / WXYZ Channel 7 Action News

Every 72 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer's disease. And each one of those patients will need one or more people to serve as caregivers. That can be emotionally and physically draining. So here are seven ways to remain healthy while caring for a loved one.

1. Become an educated caregiver. As the disease progresses, new caregiving skills are necessary. Seminars, books and publications can help you better understand and cope with the behaviors and personality changes that often accompany Alzheimer's

2. Get help. Doing everything yourself can leave you exhausted. Support groups and the Alzheimer's Association Help Line are good sources of comfort and reassurance. If stress becomes overwhelming, seek professional help.

3. Take care of yourself and manage your level of stress. Watch your diet and exercise, and get plenty of rest. Make time for shopping, a movie or an uninterrupted visit with a friend.

4. Accept changes as they occur. People with Alzheimer's disease change and so do their needs. They often require care beyond what you can provide on your own. A thorough investigation of options, from a home with assistance to residential care, should make the transition easier.

5. Do legal and financial planning. Plan ahead. Consult an attorney to discuss legal and financial issues including durable power of attorney, guardianship, living wills and trusts, future medical care, housing and long term care insurance.

6. Give yourself credit, not guilt. At times, you may lose patience and find yourself unable to provide all of the care the way you would like. Remember, you are doing the best you can. Don't feel guilty because you cannot do more. Your loved one needs you and you are there.

7. Get started today. Attend a free education film and panel discussion on Alzheimer's and related dementias. "You Are Here" is a feature film by Metro Detroit writer Tim Jeffrey, and was shot in and around Detroit. Ask area experts about caring for a loved one with dementia. This event takes place on Thursdayat Lawrence Technological University. Screenings are at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Call (248) 644-8100 for information.

You can watch Action News anchor Carolyn Clifford's Health Edge reports weekdays on WXYZ Channel 7 Action News at 5 p.m.

Find this article at:

The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People with Alzheimer Disease and Memory Loss in Later Life