Researchers Say Alzheimer’s Caregivers Need More SupportResearchers Say Alzheimers Caregivers Need More Support

Deaths from Alzheimer’s rose more than 50% between 1999 to 2014, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control. That may come as a surprise if you remember last year’s news that rates of dementia are declining. The report’s authors say the increase in deaths is partly because of better diagnostic tools but also because the population of seniors is growing. The researchers also found that more and more Alzheimer’s patients are dying at home rather than in a nursing home, which means there’s a rising number of family members who need support as they care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s.

It’s no secret that taking care of someone with dementia can be a challenge, especially if you’re combining caregiving with parenting and work outside the home. Many caregivers have to cut back on paid work or quit working altogether, which can add to their overall stress levels. To improve patient care and relieve some of the stress of caregiving, the report’s authors say family caregivers need more access to education, respite care options, and home health help.

Education after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can help you prepare for and cope with the behavioral and physical changes your loved one will go through as the disease progresses. Education can also help you find outside assistance when you need it, learn to spot warning signs of caregiver burnout, and take care of yourself. The Alzheimer’s Association’s online caregiver portal is a good place to start, because it has message boards and a hotline you can use any time, as well as a library and links to local groups. Another valuable resource for Alzheimer’s caregivers is your local Area Agency on Aging, which you can find by entering your location on the national site. These local groups can direct you to classes, legal resources, respite care and other services in your community.

Respite care is a blanket term for several types of care. Adult day programs for memory patients can give you a few hours a week or each weekday to work, rest, or run errands while your parent is in a safe setting. Alzheimers respite care at a memory-care facility is often the best option if you need to be away from your caregiving duties for more than a day or two. The most common respite care option is in-home care, whether that’s housekeeping help or home health assistance.

Home health assistance can be a sanity-saver for family caregivers. By working with a reputable home care agency, you can arrange a visiting caregiver to take the overnight shift so you can sleep, have someone with your parent during the day while you’re at work, or cover the morning or evening hours while you’re getting the kids to school and other activities.

Learn more about in-home care and Alzheimer’s care options at SeniorAdvisor.com. You can also talk to a Senior Living Advisor about the range of memory care options in your area by calling 1-800-805-3621.

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance writer whose childhood was made awesome by her grandmothers, great-grandmother, great-aunts and -uncles, and their friends.

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