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CARING FOR LOVED ONE WITH ALZHEIMER’S | Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia in people over 65. More than 27% of American’s have a family member with Alzheimer’s.

Caring for an older loved one is never easy, but caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease presents special challenges. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that 40% of these caregivers suffer a “high” level of emotional stress. And according to a study published by the Journal of Immunology, caring for someone with Alzheimer actually shortens a person’s life by 4 to 8 years!

The truth is people with Alzheimer’s are extremely difficult to care for and live around. Seeing someone you love slowly slip away takes an incredible emotional toll.

Given the seriousness of symptoms such as memory loss, wandering and hallucination, people with Alzheimer’s many times need “around the clock” care. They cannot be left alone for a minute. And most family caregivers who try to provide this level of 24/7 care, eventually feel overwhelmed and exhausted.

Dr. Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC, Certified Geriatric Care Manager and Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Home Care Assistance, an international provider of in-home care services, offers the following suggestions to those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s:

1. Contact the Alzheimer’s Association or the Senior Center in your city. They can help you find support groups or organizations for you to join to get information and connect with others just like you.

2. Arrange for respite care; call relatives, neighbors or friends and ask them to help. Patch together a weekly schedule of people who will fill your shoes so you can run errands, get groceries or just enjoy time off from caregiving. Home Care agencies, like Home Care Assistance (www.homecareassistance.com), are experts in providing respite care ranging from a few hours day to 24/7 care.

3. Research Adult Day Care Centers; these are typically 9-4 daily programs where you drop off your loved one for the day. They offer a routine, safe environment.

4. Hire a Geriatric Care Manager; visit www.caremanger.org for a list of care managers in your area. These professional can help you locate and coordinate all the services your loved one needs, relieving you in the process.

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