Alzheimer's Caregiver Support
Immediately after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease has been made, it’s important to begin to create a care plan.
Often the first step involves having a conversation with family members. Naturally, this means different things for different people as geographical, family dynamic, and cultural characteristics vary from family to family. As a caregiver, you need to examine exactly what a caregiver role might look like to each member of your family.
Do you have a cousin that is good with money? Maybe he or she can begin to handle Mom’s finances.
Do you have a sister across town that has an extra bedroom available? Maybe we can think about moving Mom into that room permanently.
In addition to thinking about what family members can offer, be sure to consider their comfort level. For example, you may have a brother with a minivan, which is perfect for Mom as an occasional extra passenger. But maybe he has the most commitments out of all of the family members, or is emotionally unable to experience Mom forgetting his name. The key to a successful treatment plan involves examining all of the various aspects of your family, and determining how certain members can and cannot contribute.
Aside from family members, your loved one’s primary care physician can play an integral role in your care plan. Again there are multiple points here to consider.
Do you plan to stick solely with a primary care physician or seek out the advice of a specialist in addition?
Where would that other doctor be located and how often will you/can you visit?
A specialist may have more access to clinical research opportunities, which depending on your situation might be very valuable. Unless you live by a university or in an urban area, however, chances are that you will have to travel substantially to visit a specialized doctor. While your loved one’s primary doctor is likely to be your most accessible source of medical advice, you do not necessarily have to use him or her for everything.
Aside from medications and prescriptions, many of the caregiver resources that you need can be found through other sources. Of course, taking medical advice from strangers on the Internet is forever inadvisable. However, if you find that your doctor does not communicate well with you, or is not receptive to your problems, feel free to turn to other communities for non-medical care giving advice.
Community and online resources can be seen as the perfect middle ground between family members and physicians. They give advice that you can act upon, but that isn’t drowned in medical terminology. These platforms offer a caring and supportive community, but don’t bring the drama that can very easily develop between family members.
Consider the commitment you can offer in engaging with such resources as well as what you plan to get out of them. Some caregivers sign up for a weekly newsletter just to be reminded that there are people out there who are looking out for them. Others take a more active approach, and participate in large “cure walks” or 5K races. Still others find it important to visit caregiver retreats, which give caregivers a respite from their strenuous responsibilities, while allowing them to interact with other caregivers in similar situations. Caregivers can also turn to the web for financial and legal help, both for themselves and for their loved ones.