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As The Primary Care Giver for an Alzheimer's Patient, How Can I Get a Break?
by: William Hammond, J.D.
Taking care of a loved one who has Alzheimer's is a huge responsibility and very time consuming. It can bring a lot of stress, frustration and more. You devote all your time to your loved one and not have time for yourself anymore. You always wonder: when can I take a break from her? It is not an easy decision, but sometimes it has to be made for your own well being.
There are different options to consider. If your loved one is in early/mid stages of Alzheimer's you can consider private duty home care. Many agencies throughout the nation and in your community provide this service. A list of providers can be obtained in the phone book, from the local Alzheimer's Association, Area Agency on Aging, or any case management and referral source. The private duty home care can include services like bathing, sitting, taking to appointments, shopping, meal preparation and other day-to-day essentials. This assistance will definitely help you in getting more free time.
You might also try adult day care. The centers usually operate from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm. It is a good environment for socialization. Your loved one will be able to interact with others, but she knows she will be back home for the night. If you decide to look for an adult day care, you will want to make sure the staff is experienced in caring for Alzheimer's patients.
Another solution is hiring an independent in-home care giver yourself. This person will take care of your loved one while you are away. You may be able to obtain names and information about experienced caregivers from places such as your church, Alzheimer's Association, Area Agency on Aging.
Make sure you check the references. Meet and talk with the prospective caregiver and see how the person interacts with your loved one. Touching is very important. It could be a pat on the back or gently rubbing the hand. You can even ask your loved one for input about the person. People with dementia are often perceptive and intuitive.
And don't forget! You have family members as well that can help you. A loved one who has Alzheimer's affects all family members. So if family members offer to help, take advantage of it.
Remember, help is available. Do not feel guilty because you want to take a break. You deserve it.
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