Early-stage Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t just affect one person- it can impact a whole family. Suddenly, family members are launched into an unfamiliar role and have to cope with their new situation. Thankfully, in the early stages, there is still time to plan for the future with loved ones. Here are some tips from Alzheimer’s Family Center’s social worker team for when you’re coping with your new role as a caregiver.
Alzheimer’s Family Center (AFC) has released the first three volumes of its new series of caregiver e-books, collectively entitled A Practical Guide for Family Caregivers. The just-released volumes are available on the AFC website at www.afscenter.org/care-for-caregivers/caregivers-e-books/ and can be downloaded free of charge. The series was made possible by the generous support of the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation.
Planned as a 10-book series, A Practical Guide for Family Caregivers explores different topics related to Alzheimer’s and memory loss ranging from getting a diagnosis to managing caregiver stress. Here is a short excerpt of our first e-book, entitled “Assembling a Team for Your Journey.” The volume provides information on the different resources every dementia caregiver needs and where to start looking.
Social Health and Well-Being
Socialization is one of the most profound and important activities for patients with memory loss. The stimulation of interacting with others provides the brain “exercise” that helps slow the progression of disease, improves mood, and decreases loneliness and isolation.
Socialization is also critically important for caregivers. Being a caregiver is often both physically and mentally challenging. One of the ways that people cope with overwhelming challenges is to use their social networks to decompress, have a sounding board, and receive support. Although you may feel like you are the only one going through these challenges, talking about it with others will help normalize your challenges and frustration, and it may simply feel good to have someone to talk to.
Share your story
Talk to others, and communicate with friends and family about what you are going through. Caregivers may feel that talking about their loved one’s diagnosis might be embarrassing, or humiliate them. While being protective of your loved one is natural, letting others in will give you both increased support, and allow others to help you. Oftentimes friends and family want to help, but are unsure how, or want to respect your privacy. Caregivers may feel that their friends have stopped calling, coming by, or inviting them out. Remember that people frequently avoid situations that are uncomfortable or that they don’t understand. The more you can talk, share and open up about what is going on, the better others can understand.
You may download the ebooks at https://afscenter.org/care-for-caregivers/caregivers-e-books/.