When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, there’s no instruction manual for family members who will be helping with their care. But there are resources that provide information and support.

We compiled a list of online resources that can be helpful during different parts of your caregiving journey with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Helpful-Resources-When-Your-Loved-One-Is-Living-with-Alzheimer's-Disease

Arming Yourself with Information

One in four adults care for a loved one who is living with a chronic illness, disability or the effects of aging on the body. If you are one of them, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s so you can help identify the need for additional care early.

For example, did you know that the greatest risk is increasing age? After age 65, the risk of Alzheimer’s doubles every five years, and after age 85, the risk reaches nearly one-third. Learn about the 10 signs of Alzheimer’s here. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Alzheimer’s Association recently released four free online courses called A Public Health Approach to Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias. These four courses provide valuable information about the disease so you can best communicate with your loved one’s care team and the community.

Early Onset Caregiving

When people are first diagnosed, they are still very independent unless there are underlying health concerns that impact their daily activities. Your role in caregiving during early onset is mostly that of a planner. It’s important to involve your loved one in as many decisions as they’re able to make so they can feel in control of their health.

These resources can help you handle the financial and legal elements of your loved one’s care:

  • Advance Care Plans are legally binding documents that outline the type of care your loved one would like to receive, even if they become unable to communicate it themselves.
  • Appointing a power of attorney allows your loved one to make a decision about who they most trust to execute their wishes for finances and healthcare.
  • Try to partner with your loved one’s care team early on so you can provide the best support possible throughout their journey.
  • The Alzheimer’s Association has support groups and resources for people caring for loved ones in the early stages of the disease.
  • Understanding how the disease affects the brain physically can help you learn what to expect over time.
  • Learn effective ways to communicate with your loved ones so you can preserve their feelings of independence and dignity.

Middle-Stages of Caring

Caregiving is not always an easy role, and the middle-stages of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can last years. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can face a very real condition called caregiver burnout.

Below are several helpful resources for taking care of yourself and navigating some of the behaviors your loved one may develop while living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

  • As the disease progresses, your loved one may develop behaviors that are out of character for them. This is a normal response to the way their brain is impacted by the disease, but it doesn’t make it easier to handle. Try these ways you can help them get through these times.
  • When the ways above don’t seem to work, try music. Alzheimer’s disease impacts the left side of the brain first, so by appealing to the creative right side through music, you can help them recall fond memories and ease some of the confusion or fear they feel temporarily.
  • Mix up your normal routine when you or your loved one become bored with the day-to-day frustration of living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
  • You can also help your loved one preserve their memories, which can help make time spent together seem more like visiting than normal daily caregiving duty.
  • Learn about Sundowner’s Syndrome so you can develop strategies to help ease your loved one’s feelings as they navigate something they haven’t experienced before.
  • Take care of yourself by visiting your own doctor regularly, developing plans to take breaks from providing care so you can get rest or needed activity and reach out for support – don’t do it alone.

Late-stages of Caring

As the disease progresses, your loved one’s needs may increase. It’s important to ask for help during these times.

  • Home health care can help your loved one receive skilled nursing services or help with taking medication at home if they are either unable or experience serious difficulty with getting to the doctor’s office. These services are paid for through many insurances, including Medicare.
  • Hospice care is a compassionate option that can ease the caregiving burden on family members, preserve hope for a good quality of life and provide spiritual support even when a person is facing the end-stages of a disease. This service is completely covered by Medicare.
  • The Alzheimer’s Association offers a resource that outlines what to expect in late stages along with trainings to help you provide care in this phase.

If you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and need support, call 1.866.KINDRED to speak with a Registered Nurse about care options that may be available to you.