Navigating your loved one’s cognitive changes can be a challenging road to walk, but the following steps can help ease the caregiving journey ahead.
Assess Your Loved One’s Needs
First, determine what types of help or care your loved one may need. Each person’s health needs vary, but there are certain conditions or symptoms you can watch for to create an appropriate health plan. For example, if they have been getting a lot of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) recently, they may be experiencing incontinence. Here are more symptoms to monitor. Make sure you meet with a medical professional to establish a care plan for your loved one.
Brain changes from dementia can make communication difficult. You may start to notice that your loved one becomes more easily distressed, or quicker to become upset. Our free classes are packed with practical strategies to help. Classes such as, Caring Conversations: A New Way of Talking, provide essential knowledge that can teach you how to effectively interact with your loved one. Observe and document everything your loved one may need. That way when talking with a professional you know how to best address those concerns and needs.
Ask Your Family and Friends to Share Caregiving Tasks
Caregiving is a difficult task, but you don’t have to face it alone. Communicate your and your loved one’s needs with your family, friends, workplace, place of worship, and anyone of significance in your life. Set up a support system and see who can be a part of it and how. For instance, a friend may be able to spend a couple of hours with your loved one while you get groceries and pay important bills. Someone else can play board games or do other activities with your loved one to give you some time for yourself to take personal respite and rejuvenation. If your loved one is enrolled in a center where they receive daytime assistance, like one of our Healthy Aging Centers, talk to your family or your workplace about making the necessary arrangement so you or someone you trust can pick them up. Remember, you are not alone so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Join a Support Group
Regardless of the stage, support groups can be beneficial and are a great way to meet others with similar experiences. Support groups are set up as informal discussions designed to help caregivers find emotional support, learn educational information, and facilitate problem-solving. See a full list of support groups Alzheimer’s Orange County offers here, available in English, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin, and Vietnamese.
If you’re hesitant to join, consider what others are saying about how they were able to benefit.
“Outstanding levels of support—don’t know what I would have done or would do without this help :)”
“My lifeline during the journey”
“They are family now”
“Changed my life”
Schedule a Care Consultation
A family care consultation can provide a personalized, in-depth discussion that caregivers, family members, and especially those with dementia will find helpful. A care consultation can address the needs of the family along with the loved one living with dementia. Various types of referrals are issued to provide support as needed. Call our Helpline (844-373-4400) to schedule an appointment.
Research Options for Advanced Care
It is important to discuss advance care planning while your loved one is still early in the disease. This way, you can hear their concerns and understand their wishes regarding care when they are unable to make decisions for end-of-life care. In addition to advance care planning, if deemed appropriate by a doctor, filling out the POLST form can be a valuable tool in care planning. This form will inform medical professionals regarding your loved one’s wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment.
If you have any questions or would like to know more information, please call our Helpline at 844-373-4400.