November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month. The Alzheimer’s Association – Western Carolina Chapter is marking these events by honoring the more than 307,000 family members and friends – across the 49 central and western North Carolina counties it serves – who are currently caring for a person living with Alzheimer’s.
According to a recent Alzheimer’s Association survey, people overwhelmingly agree (91 percent) that caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia should be a group effort among family or close friends, yet one out of three caregivers are not engaging others in caregiving tasks. More than four in five caregivers would have liked more support in providing care for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, especially from their family. In addition, 35 percent of caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia report that their health has gotten worse due to care responsibilities.
“There are many demands associated with being a caregiver of someone with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, so a helpful hand can make a world of difference for them,” said Katherine L. Lambert, CEO of the Western Carolina Chapter. “During this month and throughout the year, we are encouraging people to support caregivers and to let them know they are not alone in this fight.”
The Alzheimer’s Association provided the following ways that people can help caregivers this month. For more information, visit http://www.alz.org/honor.
How to Help an Alzheimer’s Caregiver
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. The Alzheimer’s Association has a vast amount of resources and information available at www.alz.org.
Build a Team: The Alzheimer's Association Care Team Calendar is a free, personalized online tool to organize family and friends who want to help with caregiving. This service makes it easy to share activities and information within the person’s care team. Helpers can sign up for specific tasks, such as preparing meals, providing rides or running errands. Users can post items for which assistance is needed. Visit the Care Team Calendar here: www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-care-calendar.asp.
Give a Break: Make a standing appointment to give the caregiver a break. Spend time with the person 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: Almost two out of every three caregivers said that feeling isolated or alone was a significant challenge in providing care for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. What’s more, half of all caregivers felt like they couldn’t talk to anyone in social settings or work about what they were going through. 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 – pick up groceries, dry cleaning or even offer to shuttle kids to and from activities. It can be hard for a caregiver to find time to complete these simple tasks outside of the home 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. Try making your offer of help or support more specific (“I’m going to the store, what do you need?” or “I have free time this weekend, let me stop over for a couple of hours so you can do what you need to do.”) Don’t get frustrated if your offer of support is not immediately accepted. The family may need time to assess its needs. 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 living with 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 at your local Alzheimer’s Association office, participate in fundraising events such as the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and The Longest Day, advocate for more research funding, or sign up to participate in a clinical study as a healthy volunteer through the Alzheimer’s Association’s Trial Match. Joining the cause can help families facing the disease know that they are not alone in their fight.
Additional Facts and Figures: (http://www.alz.org/facts/)
● One in 10 people age 65 and older (10 percent) has Alzheimer's dementia.
● More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, a number estimated to grow to as many as 16 million by year 2050.
● Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer's are women.
● African-Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer's or other dementias as older whites.
● Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimer's or other dementias as older whites.
About the Alzheimer’s Association:
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our 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. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s.
About the Alzheimer’s Association - Western Carolina Chapter:
The Western Carolina Chapter provides patient and family services, information and referral, education, and advocacy in the 49 central and western North Carolina counties that serves over 100,000 people currently living with Alzheimer's disease in these counties. We provide a variety of services including a 24/7 Helpline, support groups, educational programs, and MedicAlert®. We offer opportunities to get involved and to make a difference. For more information about Alzheimer's disease or the Alzheimer's Association - Western Carolina Chapter, visit www.alz.org/northcarolina or call (800) 272-3900. For the latest news and updates, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Contact: Christine John-Fuller