"With Alzheimer's, families are coping with a new reality, which requires a lot of support and guidance. Families are often focused on treatment of their loved one and can forget this is a diagnosis for them as well." - Jamila, Wellthy Coordinator
In recognition of Global Alzheimer's Awareness month, we asked our Care Coordinators for some tips for caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's.
When a family receives an Alzheimer's diagnosis, it can be scary and hard to know where to begin. Our Care Coordinators recommend:
Get set up.
Get in front of decision making as early as possible, set up necessary documents, and store them for easy access: it becomes harder over time. Ensure at least one person knows where to find important documents. We recommend digitizing important documents and storing them in a secure location (i.e. Wellthy Dashboard).
Documents to consider:
- Power of Attorney
- Advanced Healthcare Directive/Living Will
- Standard Will
- Living Trust
- Insurance Cards, Medical Records
Have the tough conversations ASAP.
Even if it's challenging, start the conversation with your loved one about long-term care: this will allow everyone to be heard and involved and allow you to understand your loved one's wishes.
Coping with Changes in Communication
The largest challenge we see is families adjusting to changes in communication, which can become tricky and frustrating. Our Care Coordinators suggest:
Break tasks up.
Try breaking tasks into small actionable items, so they are easier to understand. This will help prevent a loved one with Alzheimer's from feeling overwhelmed, and hopefully lead to less frustration for both you and them.
Try to talk about one thing at a time and avoid distractions. Everyone can benefit from being in the moment!
Get a mediator involved.
Communication can become challenging between family members. Perhaps find a liaison (an unbiased third party) to help facilitate difficult conversations.
Make Your Loved One Feel Loved
Families seem to find comfort in doing puzzles and organizational activities with their loved one: this not only allows for quality time, but also provides brain stimulation! Our Care Coordinators advise:
Participate in your loved one's favorite activities.
Join your loved one in doing the things they have always loved: painting, listening to music, taking dance lessons, watching sports, taking a walk, flea market shopping, cooking, really anything they love!
Take care of yourself as you take care of them.
Alzheimer's is extremely hard on families. You're not alone: find community and ask for help when you need it! Your friends, family, local religious center, and the Alzheimer's Association are great places to turn.