When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, caregivers face an incredible amount of stress, anxiety, and guilt over the obstacles they will face and the decisions they will have to make in the future. They go through a grief process that could last for years as they encounter the slow degeneration and ultimate death of a loved one. Caregivers must realize that they have to be emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy themselves before they can properly care for anyone else. To attain this level of health, caregivers must create a firm foundation of support for themselves based on life-sustaining wellness behaviors.
The first form of support for caregivers of Alzheimer’s disease is physical. A well-balanced and nourishing diet based on the Food Guide Pyramid will provide them the energy they need to care for a loved one. Processed foods should be avoided; foods high in fiber and calcium, such as fruits and leafy green vegetables, should be emphasized; and caregivers should remember to drink plenty of water, as dehydration can be hazardous to their health. If finances are a problem, local social service agencies often offer monetary assistance, such as food stamps, and they also offer opportunities to eat a hot meal at a reduced price in fellowship with other seniors at local churches, schools, and senior centers. The importance of nutritious food is rivaled only by the complementary practice of frequent exercise.
- Alzheimers support around the home
Regular physical activity as simple as cleaning a bathtub can not only improve health but also relieve stress, providing both physical and emotional support for caregivers of Alzheimer’s disease. Regular checkups are another crucial part of physical health. Cardiovascular, vision and dental problems are common as people age and can cause caregivers a great deal of difficulty. Finally, caregivers should have an emergency plan just in case the worst-case scenario happens, and they become ill or die.
The second form of support for caregivers of Alzheimer’s disease relies on a mixture of emotional and spiritual support. As caregivers become enmeshed in the disease process of their loved ones, it is easy for negative emotions to become overwhelming. To bring more positive emotions into their lives, caregivers can reconnect with their sense of humor. Laughter has several physical as well as psychological benefits. Caregivers could find a laughter group in their community or start one of their own.
Spirituality can also be great succor, and caregivers should make it a point to attend their church, mosque, or synagogue of choice. In addition, imagination and creative visualization can be used to overcome negative emotions and find hope for the future. Whenever caregivers feel like their emotional health is in jeopardy, however, they should seek outside help in the form of a professional counselor, psychotherapy group, or support group. Support for caregivers of Alzheimer’s disease obviously comes in a variety of forms. By creating a multidimensional foundation for health, caregivers can thrive in their role and offer their loved ones the best of themselves.