Every 67 seconds, someone discovers that a close relative has received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. For many, the news can come as a shock and be overwhelming. The young, fit and mentally active parent who raised you has suddenly been diagnosed with an age-related condition, which is currently incurable. At this time, it is important to stay calm, but also to understand that your role in life could be about to change as you take on the responsibility of a caregiver. This doesn’t have to be a lonely or depressing experience because there are steps you can take to ease the pressures faced by your loved one as they enter this new stage of life.
Stay Calm and Do Your Research
If you are experiencing shock and anxiety following the news, it is probably because you are not as well informed on the topic as you could be. You fear the unknown. Reassure yourself that 50 million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer’s or a similar condition and many live full and happy lives. If you want to provide the best care for an elderly relative, then start with research.
The internet is full of medical sites, journals and personal blogs that will provide you with the knowledge you need to cope. Understand the differences between early-stage, moderate and severe conditions, so that you have a full grasp of the problems and how to handle them. The more you know, the less you’ll worry.
Consider Your Options
You should be spending plenty of time talking with your relative’s doctor about the necessary care and treatment. They will educate you about potential changes in your loved one’s behavior, such as diminished communication skills, confusion and interrupted sleep patterns. This will help you to not feel concerned when issues arise, but instead to deal with them professionally and effectively.
You may need to consider hiring professional support. This can be something as simple as someone preparing cooked meals to ease your workload or full live in care services. You may also want to seek psychiatric care yourself, to ensure you are not neglecting your own mental health needs.
Allow Time to Process
Don’t expect to come to terms with everything in one day. This is an ongoing process which will require extended periods of research. Much like becoming a parent for the first time, learning to be a caregiver to an elderly relative happens through practical experience. Allow yourself to be upset or even frustrated at the burden placed on you without feeling guilty. An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is a life changing event and it will take time to get used to it. This is normal, but with enough time you will find you’re able to cope with the extra pressure.
Medical support is improving all the time, meaning that there is so much help available for those with age-related conditions. Your new role as a caregiver may be daunting, but you are not alone. Work closely with others in a similar position as well as medical professionals to maintain your own meal health while caring for a loved one.
This post was written by a frequent guest of TDAC Sally! Thanks for another great post!