I came across this post on Huffington Post today. They are some general tips for caregivers. I didn’t like their title, though. There is debate in the field of Gerontology about the phrase “successful aging,” which implies that there are also UN-successful agers, or that one can somehow fail at aging. This title also implies that you need these strategies to become better at caregiving, and that there is some difference between successful and unsuccessful caregivers.
In the beginning, the article states, “Armed with these tools, any person can find themselves better prepared to handle the challenges that come with being an Alzheimer’s caregiver.” And in closing, it states, “… and these simple tips can help anyone improve their work as an Alzheimer’s caregiver.” I would have expected a little bit more caution and sensitivity from the Chairman of the Alzheimer’s Global Initiative and the President and CEO for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA).
Reading these 4 broad tips will not automatically make you a better caregiver. I’m sorry to disappoint you, dear readers, but these tips are not so simple – they actually require quite a bit of work, including some soul-searching and long-term commitments. I think the article gives great advice, and advice I would also give if I were writing to the general public and not a specific situation… which is why I share it here 🙂 I just want you to proceed with caution.
How to Be A Better Alzheimer’s Caregiver: Strategies for Success
Eric J. Hall – President & CEO of HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, Chairman of Alzheimer’s Global Initiative
Posted: 03/13/2015 11:25 am EDT Updated: 03/13/2015 11:59 am EDT
Millions of people from all over the globe, find themselves taking on the difficult responsibility of being an Alzheimer’s caregiver. Whether its for a friend, loved one, or a parent, taking on this job means taking on a number of challenges. Alzheimer’s disease can change any person, impact how they act, and change the way they exhibit normal behaviors. These changes can happen at a moment’s notice and catch anyone off-guard. This is just one of the countless challenges that a person acting as an Alzheimer’s caregiver must deal with. This is precisely why any person caring for one of these individuals needs to arm themselves with some of the most prove “strategies for success.” Armed with these tools, any person can find themselves better prepared to handle the challenges that come with being an Alzheimer’s caregiver.
- Educate Yourself
One of the best things that any Alzheimer’s caregiver can do is to educate themselves. It is important to be educated both on Alzheimer’s disease and on the ins and outs of being a caregiver. Any successful caregiver should be up-to-date with the latest caregiving strategies and know the ins and outs of Alzheimer’s disease and what changes it brings.
- Manage Expectations
It is important to always stay positive when acting as a familial caregiver. However, staying positive and creating unrealistic expectations are two very different things. It is important as a caregiver to find that delicate balance between being optimistic and managing your expectations. Even the best caregiver in the world can’t reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. There are going to be challenging days ahead no matter what, and the best way to handle these is to be prepared for them.
- Develop a Support System
Having a support system and people to talk to about your challenges is very important. Support groups come in a variety of forms. Some people have friends and family to talk to about their experiences while others will join a more formal network of Alzheimer’s caregivers. When you are able to talk to others about your experience and feel this support, you will be a happier, healthier, better adjusted caregiver.
- Don’t Forget to Care For Yourself Too
One of the biggest things that Alzheimer’s caregivers forget to do is to take care of themselves. Most caregivers get so immersed in this responsibility that the time they once set aside for themselves quickly deteriorates. A good caregiver is one that is physically and mentally healthy, and one that is not overly stressed. Bringing that type of negative energy around a person with Alzheimer’s can only worsen their condition and make them feel nervous or anxious. Care for yourself, both for your own well-being and for theirs.
There is no shortage of challenges that accompany being an Alzheimer’s caregiver. However, no matter how challenging these times can be, for the many who take on this role, knowing these loved ones are getting the care they deserve makes it more than worth the pitfalls. Most caregivers strive to be the best they can be for their loved ones, and these simple tips can help anyone improve their work as an Alzheimer’s caregiver.