Alzheimer’s caregivers are often so overwhelmed by their responsibilities that they become absorbed by the tasks at hand. When there are bad days, they are more likely to blame themselves for their problems and become too ridden with feelings of guilt, shame, and failure to ask for help. Another problem is that caregivers might not know how to ask for help. They might become so confused by the challenges confronting them that they are left unable to put into words what they really need. When asked if they need help, they will most likely reply with an automatic and self-defeating, “no thanks.” Making matters worse, family and friends on the outside tend to not know how to reach out to an Alzheimer’s caregiver. This is particularly true when the caregiver rebuffs offers for help because the caregiver might see acceptance as a sign of weakness or they just can’t articulate their needs.
If you are a caregiver of a loved one with Alzheimer’s, think about how you can start to reach out for help so that you can stop feeling isolated. Start by considering the following groups of people as resources and allies:
–Family and Friends: Something as simple as having someone come over to have lunch with you while your loved one is sleeping can help to ease your stress and provide human comfort. Also, if you need help but think no one could care for your loved one as well as you, ask them for help with routine tasks, such as errands or household chores. They can handle those burden relieving duties without needing any specific knowledge of Alzheimer’s or your loved one.
–Support Groups: Other Alzheimer’s caregivers will understand what you are going through better than anyone else. They can provide you with insight, sympathy, and solid advice.
–Professional Counseling: It can be helpful to have a third party available to listen to your concerns and help you to sort through your feelings. This counseling could come from a psychologist, a social worker or a therapist, depending on what you are most comfortable with.
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