Caregivers Community

3 Tips to Guide the Alzheimer’s Journey

Program Manager – Value Based Social Determinants | Shield HealthCare
11/19/18  12:13 PM PST

President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. At Shield HealthCare, we try to promote Alzheimer’s awareness all year round. We do this partially through our annual Caregiver Contest! If you have a loved one who is a caregiver, try taking the time to tell them you appreciate them. Whether you are one of the 15.7 million adult family caregivers for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, an in-home support staff member, or the care recipient themselves, remember to work on embracing the changes that will occur, setting realistic expectations, and praising the accomplishments.

Welcoming Change

Change is part of the disease progression, but it is also a part of every person’s life, so as we adapt our mindset to welcome change rather than resist it, we can positively change together. Some days will be better than others, and that’s okay. Continue to find ways to partake in activities that bring purpose to the individual with Alzheimer’s life. Maybe try new activities that sound interesting. It might also be helpful to write down in a journal when stress manifests from the recipient so that, as a caregiver, you can reflect and see how things can be done differently next time to potentially have a better outcome. In support, be sure to have realistic goals and expectations.

Having Realistic Expectations

As the individual with Alzheimer’s — focus on what can be done. As a caregiver, it is an opportunity to collaborate with the individual. Help the care recipient along the way by keeping a schedule and approaching one task at a time — use a desk sized calendar to track appointments and events. Be creative with identifying the best strategies for things that are more difficult to do or remember; maybe it’s a pill box with an alert for medication reminders. Or, advise on moving the shampoo from the left side of the tub to the right after its been used as to not repeat the process. Above all, identify strategies that work best, and don’t be afraid to change it if it’s no longer working; remember that change is part of the process and it’s okay!

Praising the Accomplishments

As a caregiver — try to praise, encourage, and keep your tone warm. Just as those without Alzheimer’s enjoy compliments and hearing that they’ve done something well, so do those with the disease. Celebrate the little things and provide encouragement along the way, this may help keep everyone in happy spirits. You’re not alone and there are many resources, support groups, and products available to help along the way!

Leaning on the Resources

First, channel into the available resources and supports, and use each resource to learn about more. Incontinence can occur for many individuals with Alzheimer’s. As a caregiver, don’t shy away from this topic and approach it with dignity and reassurance. Check with a doctor to rule out various medical conditions and then get connected to a DME supplier; did you know incontinence supplies are covered through Medicaid and Managed Care? Shield HealthCare will handle the paperwork needed for the supplies and provide automated reminders to help maintain a schedule.

Next, check with your insurance company, state, or county about In-Home Support Services! For those who qualify, many states have programs that might pay for services provided to help individuals remain safely in their home and transportation to appointments for those who may not be able to drive anymore.

And finally, try getting connected with your local Alzheimer’s Association to learn about support groups and respite care (short-term relief for primary caregivers). As a caregiver, don’t forget that your needs matter too! Find strength in the supportive resources available.

And remember to find joy in the journey.






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