Tammi Haber’s Step By Step Plan
Step By Step
Tammi Haber, Senior Options Care Manager
Caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s is an intensely emotional and often times stressful journey. It is important to prepare for the road ahead, for the challenges you will face can be overwhelming as well as rewarding.
The first step will be to consult with your loved one’s medical team as well as family members to determine legal and financial arrangements. In addition, planning for long term care options are important to put in place prior to the progression of the disease.
Caregiving is a tremendous commitment and strain once the disease progresses. Will it be a family member? A support team comprising family and friends? A private caregiver? Is it feasible for the person to stay at home or is placement a safer option?
The second step is to plan to care for yourself. During this time, it is easy to neglect yourself. If you are not getting the care you need, you will not be able to provide your loved one with what they need. Many people find it difficult to ask for help. Begin to work on this as soon as possible. Help can consist of grocery shopping, pharmacy errands, tasks in your home, etc… This will allow you not to have to think about those important things that can easily be managed by others.
Join a support group. This is invaluable. You will learn from others who are experiencing what you are going through. Connecting to others who are experiencing similar situations can reduce feelings of isolation and fear.
Reach out to the local Alzheimer’s Association chapter, each chapter has resources available and often provides training for caregivers as well as support.
Try to go for a walk or a bike ride if possible. It can be 2 – 3 10 minute sessions in a day. It is a proven fact that exercise releases endorphins that can help boost your mood.
Thirdly, prepare for communication challenges. Keep your responses short and simple. Speak slowly and clearly. Always call your loved one by their name as well as continue to tell them yours.
Fourth, although it is towards the end doesn’t make it any less important. Consistency and routine is paramount to both of you. Try to keep the time when your loved one wakes up the same each day. Tell them it is the morning and open the blinds to let the sunlight in. Tell them what their day is going to be like. If visitors are coming, tell them who and when they will arrive. If your loved one is able to participate in any activities of daily living, let them do so. They may not be able to make themselves breakfast, but they may be able to put their clothes on correctly.