Alzheimer’s: A Disease Without Boundaries
By Kasi Tiller
CEO, Legacy Home Care Services, Inc.
I received an email the other day that said June 21st is “do whatever you love day” to help fight Alzheimer’s disease. This is an opportunity to team up with the Alzheimer’s Association to help end Alzheimer’s.
I paused for a moment to think more about people who are either living with Alzheimer’s or has a loved one living with the disease.
Very often the initial symptoms appearing in a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease are remembered in hindsight, a little like viewing an accident in the rearview mirror. At first, his difficulty in recalling words may seem like nothing, perhaps no more than a lack of sleep or a “senior moment.” It usually becomes more obvious when he becomes increasingly forgetful, sometimes not remembering why he has gone to the store or how to drive home on streets he has known for years.
Few families have been left untouched by this insidious disease. Alzheimer’s, after all, is a disease that does not discriminate. It affects people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, socioeconomic status, and education. It knows no boundaries.
Since Alzheimer’s is not a disease like cancer or diabetes that is necessarily visual, other members of the family may not know what the caregiver goes through. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be an all-consuming 24-hour-a-day, seven-day a week grind.
What can caregivers do to reduce the burden? The Alzheimer’s Association and other experts offer the following recommendations:
• Manage your stress level. High levels of stress, which are very common with primary caregivers, can cause physical problems.
• Take care of yourself. Caregivers can’t ignore themselves in the process of helping their loved one. Watch your diet, exercise and get plenty of rest. Take time out for shopping, entertainment and getting away.
• Become an educated caregiver. Find out where there are support groups or contact your local Alzheimer’s association to learn more about how to cope.
• Do legal and financial planning. Consult an attorney and other specialists to discuss legal, financial and medical issues.
• Give yourself a break. This is considered the most important step and the one that you can least ignore. It may mean exploring home care, adult day care options or respite services.
Alzheimer’s disease devastates lives – and that can include the life of the caregiver as well. The adult children for one client, who called us about sending them a companion to help their mother care for their father, said they made the call after reaching the conclusion “we have already lost dad, we can’t lose mom too.”
Kasi Tiller is the CEO of Legacy Home Care Services, Inc. Legacy Home Care Services provides non-medical personal care and companion services to seniors, those recovering from surgery, new and expectant mothers, and parents of children with special needs, children and others. Read the full article with additional tips at www.legacyhomecare.org.