Caregivers for people with neurodegenerative illnesses
If you are a caregiver to someone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or dementia, it helps to prepare yourself for the next stages.You need to know what to expect, how to take care of the patient, and what signs to watch out for as the illness progresses.At the same time, remember that you are important too. It is vital that you meet a doctor and a therapist regularly, so that you can take care of yourself.
Stay informed - It helps both you and the patient
Learn about the patient’s illness and meet a counselor who can support you through the different stages of the patient’s illness. Initially, the frequency of visits may be more. As one comes to terms with the illness and accompanying life changes, the frequency of visits may decrease.
Care for yourself - You are important too
It's a big change, and your new role can take a toll on you. It can be very difficult as you'll have to do additional work, care for your mental wellbeing, physical health, as well as care for the person. Keep some time for yourself too. Engage in outdoor activities you enjoy. Socialize, and have a network of friends and family.
Talk - And seek help when required
The diagnosis doesn't mean it's the end of social interactions and family meetings. It's not something to be afraid of or feel stigmatized about. It's alright to talk about it to those you trust, seek help from neighbors or extended family and friends.A tight-knit, reliable support system will allow you to share tasks.
Help the patient manage their finances - Discuss in a sensitive manner
If there isn’t a joint account in place, bring it up for discussion in a sensitive manner. Offer to help the patient operate their ATM card when needed. This will help family caregivers manage the patient’s finances when required. Talking to a counselor after the diagnosis can help them understand the need for it.
Social interactions - What should you tell family and friends?
- It is perfectly okay to visit.
- To talk about their day, about themselves, about a cricket match or something that really interests the person.
- In case of Alzheimer’s or dementia, ask them to share their stories, and lead the person into a conversation rather than asking too many questions.
- To do simple things for the person - Take them out to a religious place, a bookshop or even the park.
- If they're not sure how to interact or what to do for the person, they can ask family members or a very close friend.
- If the person is in an old-age home or a center for treatment, they need prior permission to take them out and request the nurse-in-charge to get the person ready to go outdoors.