I attended a breakfast sponsored by my local Alzheimer’s Association
last week. At the breakfast, we heard that there are approximately 196,000
families affected by Alzheimer’s disease just in my local Alzheimer’s
Association service area. That is 196,000 families with someone coping
with the effects of the disease as well as someone coping with the effects
of being a caregiver to the person with the disease.
Since becoming an elder law attorney, I have learned that caregiving, while
rewarding, is also a hard and demanding job. One of the challenges with
caregiving is getting the caregiver to take as good of care of themselves
as they do of the person they are caring for. Organizations such as the
Alzheimer’s Association are available to assist caregivers as well
as the person affected by Alzheimer’s disease. They provide services
for caregivers such as a 24-7 confidential helpline, caregiver training,
support groups and care consultations.
It is easy to understand that the person affected by Alzheimer’s
disease needs support and assistance but sometimes it is not as readily
apparent that the caregiver is in as much need as the person they are
caring for. Caregivers need to know that they don’t have to shoulder
the burden alone and it is ok to ask for and receive help. Many times
just a short break from caregiver duties to focus on outside interests
can go a long way in giving a caregiver some balance in their lives.
So, the next time you don’t know what to say or what to do to help,
remember that the most helpful thing to do may be to research caregiver
support options in your area and then help the caregiver to take advantage
of those support options.