Throughout the month of November we are honoring National Family Caregivers Month in a series of posts and social media sharing providing tips and resources for families caring for aging parents and loved ones.  Check out our first two National Family Caregivers Month posts: Articles to help elder caregivers, by topic/concern and Celebrating Family Caregivers.

For many families, caregiving begins when they notice a loved one having difficulty with daily tasks or having memory problems.  A family member may wonder if this is a normal part of aging or if the person may be developing some type of dementia such as Alzheimer’s Disease.  If you are having such concerns, you may want to review our Aging Wisely fact sheet entitled “Memory Loss: Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Old Age–What is it?“.  It is important to get a good assessment of your loved one’s situation if you have these concerns, to determine what might be causing the memory problems, seek a good diagnostic workup and identify solutions to help your loved one maintain safety and quality of life.

Some of the resources you might consider to help a loved one who is having memory problems include: an in-home caregiver to come in to prepare meals, help with transportation and manage general household needs; meal services such as Meals on Wheels; a driver safety assessment to determine continued feasibility of driving (and transportation services to help if your loved one needs to give up driving); medication management systems or services.  These are some of the primary areas a person with early-stage Alzheimer’s may need help with in order to maintain safety and age in place.

If you have concerns about a loved one’s memory, sit down and get together your thoughts and concerns.  Talk to other family members (you may want to plan a time for a family conference call).  Document and specify what changes you have noted.  Take a thoughtful approach in how you address this issue and imagine how your loved one might feel.  For more tips on approaching someone about memory loss and dementia, watch EasyLiving’s video in which our Director of Operations, Ric Cavanagh, offers pointers about how to approach a loved one with dementia.

When your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, it is important to get good information.  Visit your local Alzheimer’s Association or visit them online.  Consider joining a local caregiver support group.  Sign up for the EasyLiving, Inc. Caregiver Tips monthly newsletter.

There are some important steps to take once you have the diagnosis.  Make sure your loved one has completed advance directives and made arrangements for someone to assist with decision making when he/she is no longer able.  Consider getting a geriatric care management assessment to understand better your loved one’s current level of functioning and any resources that might help at this point.  Talk to your family about how you will check in and be supportive of your loved one and keep an eye out for changes.  It usually makes sense to provide an advocate for your loved one at doctor’s appointments to ensure follow up, whether a family member can do so or a professional geriatric care manager is hired when family is at a distance.

For those currently caring for a loved one with dementia, it can be overwhelming at times.  A support group can help a lot and there are numerous online options if you have trouble getting out to a support group in person.  Start looking in to respite care options for when you might need a break and consider introducing a home care agency to develop a rapport with a home caregiver who can assist you and your loved one.  EasyLiving, Inc. offers Alzheimer’s Specialty Care in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg, Florida area and we invite you to contact us at 727-448-0900 to learn more or with caregiver questions.

What are some of your favorite Alzheimer’s caregiver resources?  Share your feedback with us on Facebook!

Also, to learn more about the services Medicare does and does not cover, join us on November 17th for a free educational seminar on “The Ins and Outs of Medicare“.