Caregiving for Beginners

Christine Kennard Health Pro
  • Becoming a caregiver to a family member with Alzheimer’s disease can at first seem daunting. You will have recognised that your new role is one that supports your loved one so that they can live as independent and as fulfilled a life as possible. Your job will be to make up for the deficits caused by the disease.


    Your Caregiving Role as Advocate

    You will act as their advocate, guide your loved one through making plans for their future while they are still able to contribute to legal and financial decisions, such as Guardianship, Power of Attorney. This sharepost on 10 ways Alzheimer’s affects legal issues explains more about the law and Alzheimer’s. Advocacy also means you help them get the best medical care, help with appropriate housing, and social welfare that is available.

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    Your Caregiving Role as Student

    One of the most important things you need to do is educate yourself about Alzheimer’s disease. Any new important role such as becoming a parent does not have a book where everything you need to know will be written in it. You can arm yourself with facts and information but you have to apply that knowledge to an individual with individual needs, life experiences and who, like we all do, can have good days and bed ones. A good caregiver adapts to that human being’s needs and is flexible.


    Your Caregiving Role Has to Include Your Needs Too

    An unhealthy, unhappy caregiver does not make a good caregiver so you must look after yourself too. Caregiving can be stressful and they tend to go to their doctors 50% more often than non caregiver and receive 70% more medications. This sharepost on 8 coping strategies for caregivers  will give you some ideas on how to maximise your own mental and physical health.


    Your Caregiving role as Nurse/Occupational Therapist

    Because Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease people’s skills will change and deteriorate over time. However there is no precise time frame in which this occurs. Some people retain mobility, health and some skills of everyday life longer than others. Community health workers such as nurses and primarily his or her doctor can help teach you some basic nursing skills. If someone becomes bedridden there is a lot to have to think of to maximise their health and comfort. This sharepost might help guide you on physical care in late stages of Alzheimer’s.


    Boredom affects us all so activities are just as important for someone with Alzheimer’s as they are for you. Here is a link to information on matching the person toactivities they will find entertaining and give vent to their need for exercise to keep their mobility skills from deteriorating before they need to.  


    You Caregiving Role as Social Secretary!

    Isolation may become an issue for both of you so making sure that you continue social contact is important. Relatives and friends are obviously a valuable and precious resource. They can support you, give you a bit of time off, visit you or take out your loved one. Your local Alzheimer’s Association will put you in touch with local resources and support groups. Some offer outings, clubs, and friendship. Learning about online support resources can help reduce social isolation too.


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    Caregivers have to Remember the Problems People with Alzheimer’s experience are:

    • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
    • Increasing problems with problem solving and planning
    • Problems with carrying out everyday activities at home, at work and during leisure time
    • Confusion in time and place. People can become lost in previously familiar places.
    • Problems with special awareness and visual planning i.e. driving
    • Misplacing objects
    • Problems with language, words,  making speech and writing difficult to understand
    • Poor and decreased judgement
    • Changes in mood and personality
    • Gradual withdrawal from social and work activities

    I hope this sharepost helps you with some ideas. Good Luck.


Published On: July 22, 2014