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Caregiving and Dementia

Posted on: Nov 10, 2020

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has become widely known for her post White House advocacy on behalf of family caregivers. As President of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, she writes that “There are only four kind of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.”

As we enter National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, Christian Horizons salutes family caregivers as part of its intention to be a Dementia Friendly Ministry. With one in three families touched by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, we know that the caregiving journey is emotionally, physically, and financially stressful.

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, caregivers spend an average of:

If you are a family caregiver, your job has been made even more difficult by the pandemic, particularly as many local services such as day centers have closed or offer reduced hours. 

Here are some steps that can help:

Learn all you can – take advantage of the various web offerings and information available on the web from the Alzheimer’s Association to expand your knowledge about effective caregiving.

Practice self-care – do all you can to stay healthy. Exercise, eat well, get plenty of sleep, keep up with your own doctor’s appointments, and stay in touch with friends with social distancing in-person gatherings or on the Web. Consider joining an online support group. 

Get legal & financial affairs in order – Now is an especially important time to be sure that you have important financial and health care powers of attorney completed and an updated will or estate plan. 

Plan ahead to take advantage of community services and programs - Because Alzheimer’s disease is generally slow and progressive, caregivers have time to plan ahead. Even if you think you are doing fine, it is valuable to investigate in-home services, day centers or residential care programs that can be helpful in the future. 

As a Dementia Friendly Ministry, Christian Horizons is committed to being a resource for local families and professionals. As we celebrate National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, let’s hope that 2021 provides us with good news from researchers who continue to get closer and closer to better prevention and treatment strategies. 

David Troxel, MPH, co-author of The Best Friends Approach to Dementia Care and Consultant to Christian Horizons Pathway Memory Support Program

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