November is National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, and National Family Caregivers' Month. For those Tori Sorrells, coordinator of Piedmont Newnan Hospital’s Sixty Plus Program, a program providing services for senior citizens, offers eight tips for caregivers who are dealing with family and friends suffering from the disease. “Caring for a loved one with dementia can be both rewarding and stressful. The demands of caregiving change as the disease progresses,” said Sorrells. “As the person with dementia becomes less independent and able to participate in normal activities, like managing finances or mowing the lawn, the day to day responsibilities of the caregiver grow. Exhaustion and frustration are very real feelings for the caregiver.”
1. Find out about resources in your community. Explore options such as home care, adult day care, and respite care.
2. Plan ahead as much as possible. Look into advance directives and financial planning. Have a backup plan for care giving in case you have an unplanned need for time away.
3. Find a way to care for yourself. In order to be a good caregiver for someone else, you must first take care of yourself. Be sure to eat well and get plenty of rest. Consider yoga, meditation, relaxation exercises or a class.
4. Keep moving. Exercise is essential. Involve the person with dementia when possible; take a walk, dance or garden together.
5. Ask for help. Caregiving is tough. Ask for help from friends, family, or when possible, paid caregivers.
6. Watch for signs of caregiver stress, such as: trouble sleeping, irritability, anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating or problems with physical health. Speak with your physician, clergy or counselor if you have trouble managing caregiver stress.
7. Consider a support group. Support groups provide an opportunity to express your concerns about caregiving, receive support from others who have similar challenges, and get advice from others on how to manage the challenges of caregiving.
For more information about the Piedmont Sixty Plus program, visit http://piedmont.org/sixtyplus
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