DAYTON — November is National Family Caregivers and Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. To mark these events, the Alzheimer’s Association Miami Valley Chapter is encouraging people to lend a helping hand to more than 420,000 family members and friends serving as unpaid Alzheimer’s caregivers.
Providing help and support to caregivers can be easier than most people think. Even little acts can make a big difference. The Alzheimer’s Association Miami Valley Chapter offers these suggestions:
● Learn: Educate yourself about Alzheimer’s disease – its symptoms, its progression and the common challenges facing caregivers. The more you know, the easier it will be to find ways to help.
● Build a Team: Organize family and friends who want to help with caregiving. The Alzheimer’s Association offers links to several free, online care calendar resources that families can use to build their care team, share takes and coordinate helpers.
● Give Caregivers a Break: Make a standing appointment to give the caregiver a break. Spend time with the person living with dementia and allow the caregiver a chance to run errands, go to their own doctor’s appointment, participate in a support group or engage in an activity that helps them recharge. Even one hour could make a big difference in providing the caregiver some relief.
● Check In: Many Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers report feeling isolated or alone. Make a phone call to check in, send a note, or stop by for a visit. What may seem like a small gesture can make a big difference in a caregiver’s day and help them feel supported.
● Tackle the To-Do List: Ask for a list of errands that need to be run – such as picking up groceries or prescriptions. Offer to do yard work or other household chores. It can be hard for a caregiver to find time to complete these simple tasks that we often take for granted.
● Be Specific and Flexible: Open-ended offers of support (“call me if you need anything” or “let me know if I can help”) may be well-intended, but are often dismissed. Be specific in your offer (“I’m going to the store, what do you need?”). Continue to let the caregiver know that you are there and ready to help.
● Help for the Holidays: Holiday celebrations are often joyous occasions, but they can be challenging and stressful for families facing Alzheimer’s. Help caregivers around the holidays by offering to help with cooking, cleaning or gift shopping. If a caregiver has traditionally hosted family celebrations, offer your home instead.
● Join the Fight: Honor a person living with the disease and their caregiver by joining the fight against Alzheimer’s. You can volunteer with your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter, participate in fundraising events such as Walk to End Alzheimer’s and The Longest Day, advocate for more research funding, or sign up to participate in a clinical study through the Alzheimer’s Association’s Trial Match.
Those concerned about themselves or a loved one can contact the Alzheimer’s Association Miami Valley Chapter office at 937-291-3332 to schedule a care consultation with a social worker who can offer connections to local resources that can help.