Did you know that Alzheimer’s Disease is a public health crisis impacting more than 5.8 million seniors and 16 million caregivers in the United States? The vast majority of care is provided by family members, friends, and other unpaid volunteers. That does not mean caregiving is without cost. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alzheimer’s caregivers, especially close family members, are at risk of anxiety, depression, and poor quality of life due to the nature of the disease and its intense impacts on aging adults.
June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. In support of millions of impacted Americans, let us review four ways to help an Alzheimer’s caregiver:
1. Learn about Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s Disease is a degenerative brain disorder and the most common form of dementia. Symptoms include memory loss, diminishing problem-solving abilities, and erratic behavior. While there is currently no known cure, learning about the distinct stages of Alzheimer’s, how symptoms are likely to progress over time, and other important factors will help you understand what caregivers are experiencing and be able to offer appropriate support. 2. Recognize signs of caregiver stress. Even the most committed and well-adjusted caregivers struggle with stress. Accumulated stress can cause serious health problems. Warning signs include lack of sleep, poor diet, unhealthy weight gain or loss, frequent headaches, and alcohol and prescription drug abuse. 3. Do not wait to be asked for help. Alzheimer’s caregivers might not ask for help even though they need it. Do not wait. Consider offering assistance proactively. When caregivers fail to meet their needs, they are not in the best position to care for dependent loved ones. Every bit of support helps no matter how small. A simple, “I’m free tomorrow afternoon, can I cover for you while you take a break?” or “What can I get you from the grocery store today?” can go a long way. 4. Help caregivers secure resources. The nonprofit Alzheimer’s Association offers support resources in communities across the country, as well as free online courses about Alzheimer’s Disease. Other resources can be obtained by using an Eldercare Locator to find an Area Agency on Aging, or by contacting a doctor’s office specializing in Alzheimer’s care. The legal community is also a potent resource for families in need of professional assistance. Help caregivers find what they need. If you or a loved one has been impacted by Alzheimer’s Disease, it is important to lean on resources available to you. Our office is here to provide legal support to those struggling with or in the midst of struggling with this terrible disease. If you or someone you know would like more information or guidance about related legal matters, contact our office today to schedule a meeting.