REGION — As families across the country are preparing for Thanksgiving, 16 million family members and friends will be caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s …
REGION — As families across the country are preparing for Thanksgiving, 16 million family members and friends will be caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association encourages people to lend a hand to caregivers. Here are a few ways people can help the caregivers in their lives:
Educate yourself about Alzheimer’s disease: Learn about 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 resources and information available at www.alz.org.
Offer caregivers a reprieve: 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.
Run errands: 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. Ask for a list of errands that need to be run. 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.
Make holidays easier: 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.
Support the Alzheimer’s cause: Honor a person living with the disease and their caregiver by joining the fight against Alzheimer’s. 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 TrialMatch. Joining the cause can help families facing the disease know that they are not alone in their fight.
The Hudson Valley Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association—the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research—serves families living with dementia in seven counties in New York including Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester. To learn more about programs and services offered locally, visit www.alz.org/hudsonvalley.