How to Help a Family Living with Alzheimer’s

June 3, 2020

As our country continues to navigate the Coronavirus pandemic, it is easy to lose sight of other health issues that can have a significant impact on individuals and families. In the United States, someone develops Alzheimer’s disease every 65 seconds, and more than five million Americans are currently living with it. Considering these statistics, it is likely that you know a friend or neighbor caring for an affected family member and, for the 16 million Americans providing unpaid care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, support from friends and family is paramount.

Below are some helpful ways to lend a hand to a family dealing with Alzheimer’s:

Lend an Ear

Sometimes all caregivers need is some time to talk, process, and vent. No advice or shared experience is necessary. The simple act of listening and affirming is a tremendous gift you can give them. Offer to take them out for a quick coffee, schedule a phone call, or get out for a short stroll around their neighborhood.

Perform Small Acts of Kindness

Alzheimer’s caregivers face countless decisions daily. Consider performing small random acts of kindness that they don’t need to think about. For example, drop off a home-cooked meal or freshly baked cookies in containers that don’t need returning, bring their trashcans in from the road on garbage day, or do some yard work after completing your own.

Offer Your Time
Caregiver hours can be long and tiresome, and caregiver burnout is a real issue. If you feel comfortable doing so, offer to stay with their loved one for a few hours while your friend or neighbor runs an errand, hits the gym, or takes a nap.

Choose a Weekly Chore
Chat with your friend and let them know you’d like to help by taking a weekly chore or errand off their plate and add it to your to-do list. Grab items from the store during your weekly shopping trip or drop off and pick up their books from the library. Any small task you do will lessen the burden on them.

Engage Family Members

Engage family members in activities, like a cookout, that you and your family may be doing to give them a break from the routine. If you both have children, take over carpooling duties and invite them along when you take your kids bowling or to the beach.

Be Persistent, Not Insistent

Often Alzheimer’s caregivers are too overwhelmed to respond but don’t take it personally and don’t give up on them. Try a different approach or let them know that your offer to listen or help does not come with an expiration date or any expectations from them. Above all, be respectful, regardless of their quickness to or lack to respond.

For more information, check out our Caregiver’s Toolbox, it’s full of tips that may assist you in understanding how to help ease the caregiver’s experiences.

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