I’m the primary caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s … How can I get a break?

Alzheimer’s is a family disease, so that means it affects everyone. Primary caregivers in particular experience a lot of stress. For this, the first steps are acknowledging it and getting help.

 

Take advantage of the generosity of any family members or friends who are willing to help out. If you’re one of the many family-member caregivers who don’t have this type of assistance available, look to any of the increasing home- and community-based services that can help afford you a break.

 

Look for these services nearby:

 

  • Adult say services — Clients actually go to these centers for socialization, stimulation and supervision while primary caregivers get a break. Not all centers have experience caring for Alzheimer’s patients so check around.
  • Overnight respite — Many nursing homes and assisted living facilities offer short-term stays with the express purpose of giving caregivers a break. Most do it on a space-available basis, though, so you need to plan and have a calling list ready.
  • Hired caregivers — You can hire a live-in caregiver. Networking can be helpful here. Ask around church or other local groups, such as the Alzheimer’s Association or the Area Agency on Aging, for experienced caregivers who typically work on an independent basis. If no agency is going to be responsible for these caregivers, you must treat this process with the diligence of hiring an employee (which is, in fact, what you’d be doing). Check references, do a background check, get to know the prospective caregiver, see how she or he interacts with your loved one, and don’t be afraid to ask the candidate back to check interaction a second time. You should ask your loved one for input about the candidate. Sometimes people with dementia have keen senses of perception and intuition.
  • Private duty home care — This is for single services or groupings of them on a spot basis. Many agencies offer workers who provide these types of services, which can include bathing, taking to appointments, shopping, sitting, meal preparation and other day-to-day needs.

 

But again, it can’t be emphasized enough: If you have family members, friends or others you trust who are willing and able to help, use them.