You probably never thought it would affect you and your family, but with Hispanics about 1.5 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than non-Hispanic whites, you or a loved one may be touched by the disease. As part of Alzheimer’s Awareness month this November, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation wants to offer help for the caregiver who plays a crucial role in the lives of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Studies show that there is a higher level of responsibility among Hispanic families to care for elders.2 Being a caregiver can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be a difficult one. That’s why it’s important that you take time off for yourself to stay mentally fit and ready to face the challenges. Exercising, eating healthy and socializing with friends are good for your overall well-being. Even just taking a few minutes each day to close your eyes and take a deep breath can be soothing.3
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease can be overwhelming, but having practical information and insightful guidance can help you stay grounded. The following five basic principles can form the foundation for healthy caregiving.3
Talk to the doctor.
It can be difficult to approach a doctor when you are concerned that a loved one may be afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. Write down any symptoms you see, such as changes in memory, mood or behavior beforehand so you don’t forget the information you want to share with the doctor once you have the opportunity.
You are a mother or a father, a son or a daughter, an employee or a homemaker. These roles and relationships are so much a part of us that we seldom give them much thought. We simply accept them—until Alzheimer’s disease causes them to change. And with this condition, certain changes in roles and relationships are to be expected. A once-independent spouse or parent may have to accept help for the first time in his or her life. A child may have to support the parent who has always supported him or her. These role adjustments can be difficult to make, especially at first. But you can make adjustments that can benefit both of you if you keep your partnership in mind.
Caregiving comes with a lot of emotions that are hard to manage. Fear of dependency, loneliness, isolation, or experiencing guilt, anger, or caregiver depression—these can all be part of the experience. That’s why it’s so important to keep the lines of communication open with friends and family and reach out for help when you need it. You may find more information through local support groups or by consulting a mental health care professional.
One of the best things you can do for yourself as a caregiver is take care of yourself, first and foremost. This will give you the energy you need to care for your loved one. When it comes to coping with the caregiving experience, try to focus on the good days—and all the beautiful memories you carry.
Connect with others.
Reconnecting with friends and family, finding support online and getting involved in the community are all good ways to stay socially active and keep things in perspective.
By arming yourself with information on Alzheimer’s disease, you will also be able to properly address your loved one’s needs. In-language information, including a list of resources are available at http://www.alz.org/espanol.
Caring for your loved one is a big challenge, but it is also a generous act and can be a rewarding experience. Be proud of yourself and the care you are giving those in need.