Alzheimer’s disease is often referred to by family members and caregivers as “the long goodbye.” Although progressive, those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease can live from 2 – 20 years with the disease slowly eroding their ability to remember, make decisions and perform daily tasks.
If you are a providing assistance to someone with memory loss whether it is daily hands on care or that of a long-distance caregiver it is important that you take care of yourself too. Below are a few items to keep in mind:
Care for Yourself First – If you’ve ever listened to the stewardess on an airplane you know that if the oxygen masks are deployed you should put the mask on yourself and then help those around you. This is the same direction a caregiver should take. Care for self first! Take time out of every day for yourself otherwise you are running the risk of caregiver burnout. Also just as you would not let your loved one miss a Doctor appointment, don’t put yours off and while you are there, make sure your medical professional is aware of your caregiving situation. Perhaps they will better understand why your blood pressure is high or help you to strategize ways to deal with stress and anxiety.
Take Offers of Help – Who hasn’t been told “If there’s anything I can do…” and then never followed-up on the offer. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease usually is a fulltime job. Therefore it is easy to feel like you are alone in the fight. However, if we open ourselves up to asking for and accepting help odds are it will allow us provide better care for a longer period of time for our loved one. Make a list of things that you would feel comfortable delegating, errands that need running or activities that your loved one enjoys. That way the next time someone offers you help, you’ll have something that they can “do.”
Seek Support – As a caregiver it is important that everyone immediately connected to your loved one be on the same page and when possible united in their love and compassion. However, realize that it is common that everyone will not be in agreement all of the time. When this happens try to find common ground and when needed ask for assistance from a third party. Remember your relationship with those that assist you in caring for your loved one, especially if they are family or friends, if tended well will likely outlive your loved one.
Find Local Resources – It is very important that upon diagnosis you begin to seek out services within your community that can assist you throughout your caregiving process. You may not need Respite Care right now, but you also don’t want to be scrambling to find out what is out there when you do. Luckily a great place to find out about resources in our community is through our local Aging and Disability Resource Center and Alzheimer’s Association.
Be Real – As a caregiver it is key that you have a good understanding of your loved one’s diagnosis. If not, you truly set yourself and your loved one up for frustration and failure. As the disease impairs more of your loved one’s memory and decision making process your expectations need to change. For example if your loved one can no longer tie his shoes it is not because he is being lazy, it is because the disease is no longer allowing him to remember how to tie his shoes.
In addition, be realistic with yourself and what you can expect from others. You will not be able to be with your loved one every second of every day and you may get frustrated at times. That’s OK. You are not abandoning them nor are you a bad person for needing time alone. Remember even Mother Theresa got frustrated. If you are a long-distance caregiver you will probably not be able to see your loved one as often as you or their immediate caregiver would like. However, perhaps there are other ways that you can help such as scheduling doctor appointments or making healthy meals that can be easily heated and eaten.
Make a Plan – Due to the fact that Alzheimer’s disease is progressive your loved one will never recover those things that they have lost. Realizing this is one of the hardest parts of coping with the disease, but the most important. By making a plan of what you need and want to do for your loved one helps to keep everyone one the same page. It is important to identify the people who will provide care and where your loved one will live. You should also identify who the ultimate decision maker will be, usually this is the Power of Attorney, and when they will take over making these decisions.
As a caregiver if you take the necessary steps listed above you can make sure that your loved one’s days are filled with compassionate care. Regardless of the length of the journey your love will last far beyond their final goodbye.
My father has been here only a little over 2 months. The positive change in him has been DRAMATIC! I would HIGHLY recommend Azura........ I would give it 10 stars if they allowed it! This is the premier facility for any family member with cognitive issues! They do treat residents like family, believe it!
Review posted by Stephen Diedrich
The staff at Oak Creek are all fabulous! It takes special people to care for our loved ones. If has been a trying year for all and the staff at oak creek get a shout out for their kindness and compassion they give to my mom and the others. They have all gone above and beyond to make things seem as normal as possible for my mom! All of the staff have been so helpful and kind! They are all fabulous!!
Review posted by Mary Kubacki
"We want to thank you for the loving special care you took of our mother, Diane. It was truly mom's home and you all became part of our family. Everything was home for her....from the beautiful rooms, large sunny windows all around, good food made with love, fun and personal activities from people who really loved our mom. We would highly recommend your facility to anyone. The staff from the director, to the doctor, to the nurse, to the caregivers and the maintenance man were all extremely helpful, caring, loving and professional. There are not enough words to say how much we appreciate all of you. Your exceptional care, kindness, and love were beyond anything we could have imagined. You were part of our family, and we will miss you." - Gail Sommers and Deborah Guse
Review posted by Gail Sommers & Deborah Guse
Just moved my sister-in-law to Azura Stoughton on February 12th. I feel like I’ve found a little piece of dementia heaven. The staff has gone way beyond my expectations to meet her needs and take time to know her. Anyone who has dementia deserves the TLC they receive at Azura. I’m so impressed.
Review posted by Gail Aaroen
Thank you to the Azura Memory Care team, Sheboygan location for the amazing, loving care they provided my dad. They truly loved and cared for my dad as if he was their own. It is such a warm, loving, family environment I only wish we would have moved my dad there years earlier!
Review posted by Patti Bunch
Review posted by Ron Paxson
I have enjoyed working with patients at Azura Care as a Physical Therapist Assistant. The staff has been very helpful in sharing important information about the patients to make their therapy sessions as productive as possible. They are open to learning techniques to help keep patients safe and improve their ability to perform daily tasks with less assistance. Their interactions with patients show caring and compassion with a focus on the needs of each individual to enjoy the best quality of life possible.
Review posted by Barb Eisenberg
The journey of caregiving for my Aunt started over 4 years ago. It has been a very long difficult journey. It is hard to watch and frustrating to watch a loved one decline, as well as for them to live the decline. My Aunt found her final peace at Azura Memory Care in Sheboygan. It was not only her peace but mine as well. I no longer had to worry about her care as I could see that she was loved by her Azura family. She passed away on June 21 and they knew how important that it was for me to be there, but I also found peace that if I was not there, she was with family that loved her. No words can express the appreciation for the care, compassion and love that they have for all their residents. God has opened many doors through my journey and the doors at Azura were truly a gift from God. This family made a difference in a long journey. I will always have them in my thoughts and prayers. They are where and doing what they are meant to do!