Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has become widely known for her post-White House advocacy on behalf of family caregivers. As President of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, she writes that “There are only four kind of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.”
As we enter National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, Prestige salutes our family caregivers. With one in three families touched by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, we know that the caregiving journey is emotionally, physically, and financially stressful.
According to the San Francisco based Family Caregiver Alliance, caregivers spend an average of:
- 13 days a month on tasks such as shopping, food preparation, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, and giving medication.
- 6 days per month on feeding, dressing, grooming, walking, bathing, and assisting toileting.
- 13 hours per month researching care services or information on the disease, coordination physician visits or managing financial matters.
If you are a family caregiver, your job has been made even more difficult by the pandemic, particularly as many local services such as day centers have closed or now offer reduced hours.
Here are some steps that can help:
Learn all you can – Take advantage of the various web offerings and information available on the web from the Alzheimer’s Association to expand your knowledge about effective caregiving.
Engage your family member in meaningful activity – Even in a pandemic, do your best to surround your family member with music, time spent outdoors on a nice day, reminiscence and conversation, simple chores, and exercise. Prestige Care’s award-winning Expressions memory care program emphasizes the importance of activity and engagement. If you are stuck, feel free to call us for activity ideas.
Practice self-care – Do all you can to stay healthy. Exercise, eat well, get plenty of sleep, keep up with your own doctor’s appointments, and stay in touch with friends with social distancing in-person gatherings or on the Web. Consider joining an online support group.
Get legal & financial affairs in order – Now is an especially important time to be sure that you have important financial and health care powers of attorney completed and an updated will or estate plan.
Plan ahead to take advantage of community services and programs - Because Alzheimer’s disease is generally slow and progressive, caregivers have time to plan ahead. Even if you think you are doing fine, it is valuable to investigate in-home services, day centers, or residential care programs that can be helpful in the future.
The famed British dementia researcher Dr. Tom Kitwood once wrote that “Caregivers are physicians of the human spirit.” As we focus our attention on the ongoing need to support dementia research and care during this National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, we say a special thank you to all of the families and professional staff who provide loving care to those living with dementia.
By David Troxel, Memory Care Consultant, Prestige Care