So much has been written on caregiving and how to do it. This is a simple reminder to those who are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia about what you can do for your loved one as well as for yourself!
Live in the moment. Enjoy and celebrate each day you have together. Alzheimer’s disease is a downward spiral, and you never know how long the journey will last.
Do projects together. Sort through pictures and enjoy reminiscing about people, places or experiences you shared.
Compile a CD. Listen to favorite songs, hymns and music together.
Involve your loved one in daily activities and give them a sense of purpose. What CAN they do to help? Based on current skill level and ability, your loved one could help with folding clothes, setting the table or sorting items (buttons, socks, jewelry, coins, etc.).
Plan ahead. Write your loved one’s daily schedule on a white board. If they have questions, you can direct them to the board for answers (replaces answering the same questions over and over). Find out their wishes for end of life decisions and make legal and financial plans as early as possible in the disease process so they can still fully participate.
Make a list of what family and friends can do to help you. Think of different ways they can support you as a caregiver. “Can you come over Thursday to watch my loved one while I get groceries, see a movie or get a manicure?”
Pay for outside help. What do you NOT like doing? Consider paying someone to clean, cook, do laundry, grocery shop, etc.
Make a written bucket list. Prioritize it by what you may still be able to do together and think about how to spend time together as the disease progresses.
- Travel to those favorite spots you have always wanted to experience together
- Visit kids and grandkids as often as possible
- Watch the sun rise at dawn or set at dusk
- Visit places from your childhood
- Sort through slides, movies and pictures (make a shadow box or scrapbook)
- Re-read old love letters or yearly holiday letters
- Give each other body or hand massages with lotions or oils in your favorite scents
- If possible, walk or exercise at least 20-30 minutes a day
- Enjoy favorite foods or cook together, giving simple tasks that correspond to their abilities
Take care of yourself. Make time to do the things that make you feel good and give you joy. Maintain your relationship with your own doctor. Your health needs don’t stop just because you are providing care for someone else.
While you provide dementia care and enrich your loved ones’ life, you can also enrich your own life at the same time. For more information about caregiving, support groups or Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, please call the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900 or visit the Michigan Great Lakes Chapter website at www.alz.org/mglc.