Honoring Those Who Provide Alzheimer's Care

“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 United States.

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 alz.org/honor.

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 caretaking roles.

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 alz.org/delval.

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 services, click here.

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