Friday, 7 November 2008

Practical Ways to Help a Family Facing Alzheimer's Disease

Photo © MicrosoftNovember is National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, which is a great opportunity to learn more about the disease and advocate for more Alzheimer's research and services. But it's also a great time to think about the families you know who are facing Alzheimer's and offer them some practical help.

It may be hard to imagine, but sometimes caregiving can be so time consuming that there's little time (or energy) left for basic chores like cooking, cleaning, and yard work. Here are some ways to help a family near you. If you are that family, then here are some suggestions for how to respond when a neighbor says, "Anything I can do to help?"

  • Bring over a home-cooked meal, preferably one that can be frozen if there are leftovers.
  • If you're handy around the house, offer to fix a leaky pipe, install a grab bar in the bathroom, or even change a lightbulb, if the caregiver has a hard time completing these kinds of tasks.
  • Offer to spend some time with the person who has Alzheimer's so the caregiver(s) can take a little break.
  • If you're handy outdoors, offer to rake leaves, put up holiday decorations and lights, or anything else that's needed around the yard.
  • Run errands for the family.
  • Give the house a deep cleaning -- or even a minor cleaning, if that's what's needed and desired.

Of course, it's always good to start by asking the family what they really need. Oftentimes, though, caregivers are so overwhelmed that it's hard for them to think of anything concrete. If they have trouble coming up with ideas, offer the ones above.

When you're providing help, it's also a chance to interact more with the person who has Alzheimer's disease. People with Alzheimer's have much to teach us, which means that your generosity will be a gift to yourself as well.

No comments: