8 ways to support Alzheimer's caregivers during Family Caregivers Month
November is National Alzheimer's disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month. To mark these events, the Alzheimer's Association Illinois Chapter is encouraging people to lend a helping hand to more than 587,000 Illinois family members and friends serving as Alzheimer's caregivers.
Providing help and support to caregivers can be easier than most people think. Even little acts can make a big difference.
The Alzheimer's Association Illinois Chapter offers these suggestions:
• Learn: Educate yourself about Alzheimer's disease -- its symptoms, its progression and the common challenges facing caregivers. The more you know, the easier it will be to find ways to help.
• Build a team: Organize family and friends who want to help with caregiving. The Alzheimer's Association offers links to several free, online care calendar resources that families can use to build their care team, share takes and coordinate helpers.
• Give caregivers a break: Make a standing appointment to give the caregiver a break. Spend time with the person living with dementia and allow the caregiver a chance to run errands, go to their own doctor's appointment, participate in a support group or engage in an activity that helps them recharge. Even one hour could make a big difference in providing the caregiver some relief.
• Check in: Many Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers report feeling isolated or alone. So start the conversation -- a phone call to check in, sending a note, or stopping by for a visit can make a big difference in a caregiver's day and help them feel supported.
• Tackle the to-do list: Ask for a list of errands that need to be run, such as picking up groceries or prescriptions. Offer to do yard work or other household chores. It can be hard for a caregiver to find time to complete these simple tasks that we often take for granted.
• Be specific and be flexible: Open-ended offers of support "call me if you need anything" or "let me know if I can help" may be well-intended, but are often dismissed. Be specific in your offer "I'm going to the store, what do you need?" Continue to let the caregiver know that you are there and ready to help.
• Help for the holidays: Holiday celebrations are often joyous occasions, but they can be challenging and stressful for families facing Alzheimer's. Help caregivers around the holidays by offering to help with cooking, cleaning or gift shopping. If a caregiver has traditionally hosted family celebrations, offer your home instead.
• Join the fight: Honor a person living with the disease and their caregiver by joining the fight against Alzheimer's. You can volunteer with your local Alzheimer's Association chapter, participate in fundraising events such as Walk to End Alzheimer's and The Longest Day, advocate for more research funding, or sign up to participate in a clinical study through the Alzheimer's Association's Trial Match.
To learn more about Alzheimer' disease and ways you can support families and people living with the disease, visit alz.org.
The Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's research, care and support. Its mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. The Alzheimer's Association Illinois Chapter covers an 87-county area with offices in Chicago, Joliet, Rockford, Springfield, Bloomington, Peoria, Quincy and Southern Illinois. Since 1980, the Chapter has provided reliable information and care consultation; created supportive services for families; increased funding for dementia research; and influenced public policy changes. The Illinois Chapter serves more than half a million Illinois residents affected by Alzheimer's disease, including more than 230,000 Illinois residents living with the disease. The Alzheimer's Association's vision is a world without Alzheimer's.
For information visit www.alz.org/illinois or call the free 24/7 Helpline at (800) 272-3900.