Alzheimer's Disease: Caring for the Caregiver


Four million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer's Disease, the most common form of dementia. You probably know or have known at least one person afflicted with this fatal disease. Chances are that a friend, co-worker or neighbor may be a caregiver, unbeknownst to you, for a loved one with Alzheimer's. Did you know that the caregiver needs as much care as the person who has the disease?

Perhaps one of these tips will appeal to you as a way to ease the burden and lift the spirits, even for a brief while, of one of these very special caregivers.

Listen, Listen, Listen. You don't have say anything wondrous or have a magical response. Just listen, even if you've already heard it before. A kind and gentle "uh huh" can work wonders.

Drop by with a movie and popcorn once a week. A ritual to look forward to can be a godsend.

Send "Just thinking of you" cards occasionally and don't shy away from the humorous ones.

If appropriate, invite the caregiver and the care receiver for tea or a cup of coffee. If you want to plan something special keep in mind that simplicity and quiet are the keys to a successful outing. Consider having an old -fashioned family slide show, doing a quiet craft together, looking at collections of dolls, coins, books or arrowheads. Just keep it brief and simple. The time away from home will be an enjoyable getaway for both the person with Alzheimer's and the caregiver.

Often caregivers are hesitant to ask for help. Make specific offers to prepare a meal, assist with cleaning, run errands or mow the yard. For instance, "Would you like a meal on Tuesday or Thursday this week?" or "Which weekend would you like your leaves raked this month?"


Offer to attend an Alzheimer's support group with the caregiver to show your support. You can also offer to visit at home with the care receiver allowing the caregiver to attend a support group meeting or have some time away alone.

Remember that humor is a powerful coping tool and that laughter is good for the soul. Alzheimer's families love to laugh just as much as anyone else.

Prepare an occasional meal or special treat for the family to enjoy.

Offer to visit with the person having Alzheimer's on a Sunday morning so the caregiver can attend church.

Share pertinent articles and books you may find about Alzheimer's. The caregiver will know you care and she/he may become more comfortable talking to you about his/her feelings.

Offer to take the person with Alzheimer's to lunch. The Alzheimer's Association has created a business card you can discreetly hand to the person waiting your table that says "The person with me has Alzheimer's Disease and may need a little extra time."

The local office (Central Colorado Region) of the Colorado Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association can be reached by calling 719-266-8773. Support groups, monthly educational programs and a lending library are just a few of the resources available. When you sign up for their mail list you will receive up to the date, high quality newsletters from both the state and national organizations.