Do you know someone who is caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s—a neighbor, friend or family member? If so, make it a New Year’s Resolution to give them a helping hand. It doesn’t take much, but it means a lot.
More than 90 percent of people agree that caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia should be a group effort among family or close friends, yet about one in three caregivers (39 percent) handle caregiving tasks alone, according to an Alzheimer’s Association survey.
The truth is that many caregivers don’t ask for the help they need, but providing help and support to caregivers can be easier than most people think. Even little acts can make a big difference for the nearly quarter of a million Coloradans who are providing unpaid care for the 69,000 people in our state living with Alzheimer’s.
The Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado offers these suggestions for supporting caregivers:
- 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 others.
- Build a Team: Organize family and friends who want to help with caregiving.
- Give a Break: Spend time with the person with dementia, allowing the caregiver a chance to run errands, go to their own doctor’s appointment, attend 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 caregivers report feeling isolated or alone; make a phone call to check in, send a note, or stop by for a visit.
- Tackle the To-Do List: Ask for a list of errands that need to be done. Pick up groceries, dry cleaning or even offer to shuttle kids to and from activities.
- 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.
- Call the Helpline: The Alzheimer’s Association’s 24-hour Helpline at 1-800-272-3900 is a free, confidential resource for caregivers and providers that offers answers on questions about memory loss, and gives access to the Association’s team of trained, professional counselors. The bilingual Helpline also offers translation services in more than 200 languages and dialects.
- Join the Fight: Honor a person living with the disease and their caregiver by supporting the Alzheimer’s cause. Volunteer at the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado (303-813-1669) or participate in fundraising events.
- Encourage the Caregiver to Attend a Support Group: The Alzheimer’s Caregiver’s Support Group meets at Prowers Medical Center, 401 Kendall Drive, on the 3rd Thursday of each month from 11 am to Noon. For more information, call Ann Carter, MPA, Regional Director, Southern Colorado Alzheimer’s Association at 719-544-5720.