5 Tips for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Jun 25, 2024 / Neurology

By: Carolyn Benson, NP
Division of Neurology

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be very challenging. Helping with everyday tasks and personal care, as well as assisting with health care management and finances, is time consuming, demanding and can take a toll on a caregiver’s personal well-being. It can also be very rewarding to take care of a loved one at a time when they need you most.

Here are five tips that can make caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease more manageable.

  1. Take steps to avoid agitation and conflict

Alzheimer’s disease impairs how the brain deals with stress and confusion. That’s why it’s helpful to limit situations that could cause confrontation or unnecessary change. Arguing with someone who has Alzheimer’s disease is not helpful and will only agitate them further. Keep in mind than any changes in routine or location can cause issues. Try to maintain a normal routine and keep your loved one in their usual environment as much as possible.

  1. Be Proactive to Avoid Danger

Alzheimer’s disease and the dementia it causes is progressive. This is why you will want to be on the lookout for dangerous situations and take proactive steps to keep your loved one safe. For instance, even if your loved one likes to cook, using the stove to cook dinner at night could be dangerous. To avoid an accident, you may need to arrange for meals that are pre-prepared or don’t require a stove.  Maybe involve him or her in creating the shopping list and menu planning. It’s important to constantly reassess dangers and risks to your loved one as their dementia progresses.

  1. Be open to new ways of interacting and communicating

One of the hardest things about Alzheimer’s disease is recognizing that your loved one has been forever changed by the disease. Although they may look the same, it’s important to realize they are a different person now. This means that you will have to make changes in how you perceive, communicate, and interact with them.

Seeing your loved one as they are now will help you better engage and converse with them. It will also make it easier to deal with all the challenging situations and difficult decisions that will eventually arise. It’s easy to get annoyed or short-tempered when your loved one is forgetful, repeatedly asks the same question, or does something inappropriate. Remember that they are not doing these things intentionally. It is simply a symptom of the disease they have, which they have no control over.

  1. Be Prepared to Make Decisions

Caring for a loved one means making decisions about many difficult legal, financial and medical matters. Learning as much as you can about how these different matters affect your loved one will make it easier to make long-term decisions.

You should begin planning for upcoming medical and financial decisions as soon as your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Researching your options and making decisions in advance will help reduce your stress and avoid delays. For instance, learning the cost of a nursing home in your area and even visiting a few to see which one is most suitable will help make future decisions easier.

  1. Know when to ask for help

When you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease you need to make sure that you are also taking care of yourself. If you neglect your own physical and mental health you will be unprepared to deliver the care that is needed.

Remember, as a caregiver, you can only do so much. You should be open to asking friends and family members for help when needed. Professional services, such as visiting nurses and adult day care centers, can also ease the burden on you and free you up to spend more quality time with your loved one. Including more people in the caregiving process will benefit both you and your loved one. Even just having a day to yourself to relax can really improve your mental outlook. It can also help steady you for the many challenges ahead. Support groups can also be very helpful. You can learn more about local Alzheimer’s Association support groups here.

Never feel like you are neglecting your loved one if you ask others for help. It’s an important part of providing the care your loved one needs. You can learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and care resources that can help here.

5 Tips for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

About Carolyn Benson, NP

Carolyn’s area of expertise has always been Neurology. “Whether a student nurse or a nurse practitioner, I have always loved practicing in Neurology. It’s the field of medicine that I enjoy working in the most.”

In her practice within the Neurology department at Reliant, Carolyn enjoys providing individualized, highly skilled care. “I want each patient to feel they are my only patient,” she explains. “From when I enter...

View profile View posts by this doctor

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

Some HTML is OK


Am I eligible to use Virtual ReadyMED?

Are you or the patient 4+ years old?
Are you in Massachusetts at time of video visit?
Do you have a Reliant PCP?
Do you have access to email on the device you are using?
By continuing I’m giving Reliant permission to communicate with me via text or email to complete this visit.

Am I eligible to use Virtual ReadyMED?

Do you have a MyChart account?