HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The holidays can be a stressful time for many, especially those who take care of loved ones. There are more than 11 million caregivers in the United States, and nearly half of them are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. It impacts memory, often in older adults, and it seriously impacts the daily lives of those diagnosed. Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. It worsens over time, and with late-stage Alzheimer’s a person loses the ability to carry on a conversation or respond to their environment.
An estimated 96,000 Alabamians live with Alzheimer’s. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 200,000 people in the state of Alabama are serving as caregivers.
Caregivers face many challenges in their daily mission. Their job can involve helping with everyday tasks, like bathing and dressing. Caregivers also watch as loved ones experience memory loss and behavioral, emotional and personality changes. Many caregivers reduce the number of hours they work, or give up their employment altogether, to assist a loved one with Alzheimer’s.
There are ways you can help support those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers this holiday season. Here are a few tips from the Alzheimer’s Association to assist with holiday travel and gatherings.
- Communicate Ahead of Time – As a caregiver, it’s important to make sure the family member is familiar with the situation. Establish expectations and boundaries ahead of time. As a family member, listen and do your best to anticipate needs.
- Involve the Person Living with Dementia – Ask him or her to help prepare food, wrap gifts, help decorate, or set the table. Remember some activities may be confusing or overwhelming. Be patient, and move on from tasks that are uncomfortable.
- Adapt Gift Giving – Certain gifts like tools, electronics, or challenging board games may be complicated, frustrating, or even dangerous for someone living with Alzheimer’s.
- Keep Travel Simple – Choose a familiar place if possible. Avoid layovers if flying, and pick the right time. Travel during the time of day that is best for the person with Alzheimer’s.
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The Alzheimer’s Association is a nonprofit working to accelerate research, drive risk reduction and early detection, and maximize quality care and support. If you are interested in supporting or learning more about their mission, click here.