Alzheimer’s is currently the fifth leading cause of death in California and is affecting families every day. According to the 2016 Census, there are approximately 7,000 residents living in San Luis Obispo County with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and or dementia and many more residents that are suffering from the symptoms with no formal diagnosis. Additionally, it is projected that total people who will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s will increase by 38% by 2025.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s and or dementia can have a significant impact on the family caregiver’s mental and physical health and even affect their health for several years after their loved one passes away. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, the average person caring for a loved one, spends 20 hours a week (or more) outside of work providing care for their loved one for 5 years, and 40%- 70% of those caregivers show significant signs of severe depression. Additionally, in the 2011 study completed by the National Alliance for Caregiving, those that cared for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, were 25% more likely to go the emergency room from exhaustion compared to those that cared for their loved ones without cognitive impairment.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, or know a someone that is putting their health at risk from caring for their loved one with Alzheimer’s, here are some ways to manage the stress and be a healthier caregiver:
Know what community resources are available by using this resource finder to locate dementia care resources in your area.
Connect with the local Alzheimer’s Association located at 3232 S. Higuera St. # 101a, San Luis Obispo: (805) 547-3830.
Find time for yourself. Consider taking advantage of respite care so you can get rest temporarily while your loved one will continue to receive care in a safe environment. Visit alz.org/care to learn more.
Visit your doctor regularly. Take time to get regular checkups. Pay attention to any exhaustion, stress, sleeplessness or changes in appetite. Ignoring symptoms can cause your physical and mental health to decline.
WALK to END Alzheimer’s. Join our team on Saturday, October 28 at Mission Plaza as we raise funds to support local efforts for Alzheimer’s research and fund respite care for local families. Together, we can end Alzheimer’s. For additional resources, visit http://www.caregiverstress.com/. http://act.alz.org/site/TR/Walk2015/General?team_id=423092&pg=team&fr_id=10272
About the Author: Gina Perrault is the Business Development Manager at Home Instead Senior Care serving San Luis Obispo County and is an advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association.