Astronaut John Glenn once observed, "If there's one thing I've learned in my years on this planet, it's that the happiest and most fulfilled people are those who devoted themselves to something bigger and more profound than merely their own self-interest."
These words aptly describe those who take on the role of caregivers to assist friends and family. Caregivers truly are living examples of love, compassion, selflessness and strength. November is a special month, recognizing both Alzheimer’s Awareness and National Family Caregivers. This dual recognition is fitting because many Americans are caregivers for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia—and this is one of the most challenging roles a person can fill.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than six million persons in America above the age of 65 are living with this condition and are being provided with unpaid care by more than 11 million Americans. If you are caring for a loved one, you are not alone—and resources are available should you ever need them.
As a life plan community, we at Montereau understand the value and need of providing quality care for older adults. We are here for families in Tulsa and beyond, offering older adults a full continuum of care that includes our Abbey memory support neighborhood for those affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia.
In recognition of Alzheimer’s Awareness month, here is some helpful information as well as some life-changing tips for caregivers.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease, often referred to as Alzheimer’s for short, is the most common type of dementia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines Alzheimer’s as a progressive disease that begins with mild memory loss and affects the areas of the brain responsible for controlling thought, memory and language.
Over time, this disease can possibly lead to a loss of the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to the environment. While a single cause has not yet been determined, certain risk factors have been identified. These include age, family history and cognitive decline as a result of other health conditions.
What are the warning signs or early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease?
Problems with memory that disrupts daily life are usually one of the first signs that may eventually lead to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Other warning signs include:
As some of the symptoms listed above may be an indication of other forms of dementia or various health complications, it’s necessary to consult with your doctor as you witness the first signs. An early diagnosis is always best in attending to illnesses and diseases.
Challenges of being a caregiver
Caregiving is one of the most rewarding things a person can do—but also the most challenging. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s in particular can take a toll on loved ones. The time it takes to care for someone often means caregivers neglect their own needs.
Whether you are caring for a spouse, or part of the “sandwich generation” of adult children caring for a parent while also raising children, being a caregiver comes with emotional, financial and physical costs. Self-care is critical to avoiding burnout and managing stress.
If you are a caregiver, here are five recommendations from our team of professionals:
1) Prioritize and organize. There are many aspects to caregiving. In addition to assisting the person themselves, you’re required to arrange transportation, handle meal prep, set and remember doctor’s appointments and so much more. Being organized and prioritizing your to-do list will help you to manage time better and feel less stressed.
2) Care for your physical health. Ensure that you're working at your best by making a conscious effort to care for your physical health. Ensure proper nutrition, exercise and get enough sleep. Keep an eye on your stress levels and mood as well since your emotional and mental state affects your physical health.
3) Schedule your breaks and relaxation. Make a list of all you can do to take breaks and then schedule them on your calendar to ensure it gets done. This doesn’t have to be too strict or complicated, write it down or use the note app on your phone. A good system you can use is to list a few things you can do daily (10-minute walk), weekly (favorite hobby) and also monthly (solo date) to get the necessary rest and relaxation.
4) Have a support system. Surround yourself with a strong support system that you can get advice from and lean on when necessary. This can be friends, family or even a caregiver support group. Sometimes an uplifting conversation or a few hours out of the house can make all the difference.
5) Consider respite care. Even with self-care practices, sometimes longer breaks and vacations are needed. In those moments you can consider respite care which involves arranging temporary care for your loved one at a facility or institution. Ensuring they are well cared for while you’re away will put your mind at ease and allow you to truly relax and rejuvenate.
Moving into a memory care neighborhood
As Alzheimer’s progresses, there may come a time when you need outside help. It is not easy to decide when to move a loved one into a memory care community, which is why we recommend having these conversations among family members early and often.
In fact, most residents in Montereau’s independent living community recognize the peace of mind they have created for themselves and their loved ones. Should their health needs ever change, they will be taken care of without becoming a burden on their children.
If you think your loved one needs a greater level of attention, a healthcare professional at Montereau can conduct a cognitive and functional assessment. Once assessed, our team will meet with you and provide information to help you reach the best decision for your loved one and your family.
What Montereau has to offer
Here on campus, our Abbey Memory Support neighborhood is equipped with team members who are highly trained and certified team to provide specialized and individualized therapeutic programming to respectfully foster more positive daily experiences. We also have a full calendar of activities that’s updated monthly in order to keep residents busy and engaged.
When it comes to our top-class services and amenities, here’s some of what you can expect:
To learn more about memory care at Montereau, we welcome you or your loved ones to visit any time. We are here to answer any questions and offer guidance for when—or if—you should make the move. Call (918) 495-1500 and schedule a tour of our campus today!
Wednesday, November 30, 2022
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