Alzheimer's Caregivers Need Care, Too04/27/11
WEDNESDAY, April 27 (HealthDay News) -- The growing number of
people with Alzheimer's disease in the United States means that
more people are becoming caregivers, a responsibility that health
experts warn can pose risks to body and mind.
But caregivers can take various steps to protect their health,
says Rebecca Axline, a clinical social worker at the Nantz National
Alzheimer Center in Houston.
To keep stress in check, for instance, she emphasizes the need
to find time and ways to reenergize, to keep meaningful things in
your life and to remain social and participate in your favorite
Axline also offered communication techniques that can help
reduce caregivers' stress and frustration:
- Always identify yourself and call the person you're caring for
- Talk slowly and clearly. Use short sentences and break down
instructions into steps.
- Ask one question at a time and wait patiently for a response.
Repeat information and questions. Clarify and give visual clues,
such as pointing to an object or location. Avoid vague words.
- Use positive rather than negative instructions, such as "walk
carefully" instead of "don't trip."
- Don't get into power struggles with the person, such as arguing
about something that's possibly been forgotten.
Getting adequate rest -- at least seven to eight hours of
uninterrupted sleep a night -- and eating well, Axline said, also
are key to keeping a caregiver's body and mind healthy. If there's
no time to cook, caregivers should ask for help from family,
friends or neighbors.
Building a support team is important, she said. The doctor and
treatment team, including the social worker, for the person
receiving care, as well as the local Alzheimer's Association can
help create a care program that works for the recipient and
More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, a number
that experts predict will rise to 16 million by 2050. Women are
more likely than men to develop Alzheimer's and are also more
likely to become caregivers.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging offers an
Alzheimer's caregiver guide.
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Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.