“Have you ever walked along a shoreline, only to have your footprints
washed away by the surf? That’s what Alzheimer’s is like.
The waves steadily erase the marks we leave in the sand. Some days are
better than others—the waves come in and they recede, bringing a
fog with them that sometimes clears.”
That’s how the late Pat Summitt, Hall of Fame women’s basketball
coach and namesake for the Pat Summitt Foundation, described her battle
with Alzheimer’s Disease before she passed away at age 64. Alzheimer's,
a progressive illness in which dementia gradually worsens over time, afflicts
nearly 5.4 million people and is the sixth-leading cause of death in the
Focusing on the Caregiver
In November, National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month honors
the Alzheimer’s caregiver. Caregiving for a loved one with dementia
can be one of the most stressful—and also one of the most rewarding—tasks
a person will ever undertake.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 15 million people
in the U.S. provide 18 million hours of unpaid care for people living
with Alzheimer's Disease. To recognize those selfless, dedicated caregivers
in November, the Association encourages people to post tributes to them at
Take Care to Provide Better Care
Here are some tips caregivers should keep in mind:
Share the Load—Ask family members, friends or volunteer organizations to help with
the daily burden of caregiving. Caregivers who seek regular respites not
only provide better care, they also derive more satisfaction from their
Seek Support—There is a wealth of community and online resources for sharing
caregiving stresses and successes. Caregivers who join support groups
find that they’re not alone and they learn from others who have
faced the same challenges.
Watch for Stress—Caregivers should look for signs of excessive stress such as irritability,
change in appetite or sleep patterns, or loss of interest in daily activities.
Regular physician checkups are essential as well as maintaining positive
relationships and pursuing enjoyable hobbies and interests.
Nobody’s Perfect—It’s normal for caregivers to feel they aren’t doing
enough, but no one is a "perfect" caregiver. The goal is to
do the best you can and make the best decisions possible—surely
that will be enough to make a big difference in a loved one’s life.
Saint Francis Healthcare teams with family caregivers in treating patients
with Alzheimer’s Disease through home health services, neuropsychology
services, occupational therapy and support groups. We use advanced technologies
to diagnose Alzheimer’s and conduct clinical drug trials to help
physicians in their quest to find answers for all forms of neurological illness.
For more information about Alzheimer’s Disease, contact the Alzheimer’s
Association’s 24/7 free Helpline at
800.272.3900. Information specifically for Delawareans is online at
Are you a caregiver that needs extra support? Saint Francis at Home may
offer the support you're looking for. For information on home healthcare