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Tips for Alzheimer's caregivers

Alzheimer's is a degenerative disease that impacts the brain in many ways, though it is most commonly associated with memory loss. People who suffer from it eventually have trouble living alone because they can become a risk to themselves -- forgetting to turn off the stove, for instance, or forgetting how to get home.

Professional care is not always needed right away. Caregivers often include a spouse and other close family members. Here are a few tips that can make this go smoothly:

  • Reduce negative assumptions: Instead of assuming a person is incapable of doing something, assume he or she can do it until evidence shows otherwise.
  • Always focus on safety: Even if the person does not want help, safety must be the top priority.
  • Talk about it: Don't just try to figure out what help is needed on your own. Keep lines of communication open so that the other person can tell you how best to help him or her.
  • Cooperate with one another: A caregiver does not have to do everything, at least not at first. You can just help the other person accomplish the same tasks.
  • Find out what stresses the other person out the most: Take over those activities. Examples may be simple things like going to the grocery store or answering emails.

Eventually, though, full-time care in a professional facility may be needed. This can be costly. It is important for people who have the disease or who are at risk to do all of their long-term care planning in advance so that they will have an effective plan in place when it is needed most.

Source: Alzheimers Association, "Early-Stage Caregiving," accessed April 05, 2018

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