10 Tips for Caring for Patients and Families of Alzheimer’s Disease

10 Tips for Caring for Patients and Families of Alzheimer's Disease

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently stated that the rate of deaths from Alzheimer’s disease has increased by 55% in the last 15 years. Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative mental health and memory loss illness, is currently the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. In addition, the number of Alzheimer’s patients dying at home has risen from 14% to 25%. This is a staggering increase of grief and burden on loved ones that most likely do not have professional training in health or hospice care.

“Millions of Americans and their family members are profoundly affected by Alzheimer’s disease,” said CDC Acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat. “As the number of older Americans with Alzheimer’s disease rises, more family members are taking on the emotionally and physically challenging role of caregiver than ever before.”

Memory Loss Pamphlet by Joni Eareckson TadaSo what can we as the body of Christ do to care for them and their families?

With numbers so high, you can probably already think of someone that’s caring for a family member or friend with Alzheimer’s. What can you and your church do to help? Apart from early detection and diagnosis, experts agree that insight and support for family and caregivers of an Alzheimer’s patient can provide tremendous benefits.

Dr. Christopher Taylor is the lead author of the study and an epidemiologist from the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: “Caregivers and patients can benefit from programs that include education about Alzheimer’s disease, how to take care of themselves and their loved one, and case management to lessen the burden of care,” he says. “Supportive interventions can lessen the burden for caregivers and improve the quality of care for people with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Here are 10 ways we as believers can provide supportive interventions to families and individuals…

10 Tips for Caring for Patients and Families of Alzheimer's Disease

10 Tips for Caring for Patients and Families of Alzheimer’s Disease

10 Tips for Caring for Patients and Families of Alzheimer's Disease“Alzheimer’s is a messy and inconvenient condition. And so, people with Alzheimer’s are often messy and yes, a little inconvenient. But they are people; they have souls. And they are in there, and also in our communities and part of our families…. What a joy it is to bring God’s healing touch to those the world casts aside.” —JONI EARECKSON TADA

  1. ASK CAREGIVERS how you can support a family: bring in meals, run errands, and read to or take a walk with someone with Alzheimer’s.
  2. PLAN to spend time with your friend during the hours that best fit into his regular routine.
  3. OFFER TO STAY with a person who needs care so the whole family can attend church together.
  4. KEEP TRIPS OR ACTIVITIES as simple as possible, giving instructions one at a time.
  5. WHEN PLANS CHANGE, be flexible, allowing the person to lead whenever possible.
  6. PROVIDE memory aides such as signs, maps, videos, and photos. Take along a camera; then, head with your friend to a familiar place and see what develops!
  7. ASK about the person’s hobbies, interests, and lifestyle as a conversation starter. If she loves books or movies, plan to enjoy them together and fill in the parts where she might get confused.
  8. BE GENTLE and supportive when a friend appears to struggle with a location or concept.
  9. GET MOVING—swim, bike, dance with friends. Remember, however, that sitting and listening to music can also be as comforting as these other more “active” pastimes.
  10. ASK primary caregivers how you can assist them with tasks, or how you can provide them with respite time to recharge.

“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.… Let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”—1 JOHN 3:16, 18

Memory Loss Pamphlet by Joni Eareckson TadaThese 10 tips, plus 7 things to NOT do for those affected by Alzheimer’s, how to identify the 3 stages of Alzheimer’s, and much more, can be found in Joni Eareckson Tada’s Memory Loss brochure by Aspire Press. From forgotten medication to forgotten faces, memory loss can be incredibly painful for friends and family members of the sufferer. Find the peace and strength you need to help and serve loved ones with the practical advice and biblical wisdom packed into the 20-page Help a Friend: Memory Loss pamphlet by Joni Eareckson Tada. Learn more here.

Memory Loss Pamphlet by Joni Eareckson Tada

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