For the majority of the five million people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, their care is provided by a member of their family. Family caregivers are unpaid and typically have little formal training in dementia care; yet, they ensure the safety and well-being of many seniors in need. If you or someone you know is caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s time to celebrate your hard work this November during National Family Caregiver’s Month.
“We can’t overstate the importance of family caregivers,” says Lonette Bentley, Executive Director at Clarity Pointe™ Pensacola, a memory care assisted living community in Pensacola, Florida. “At Clarity Pointe, family members contribute so much to our residents’ care, acting as a valuable part of our team. Before residents come to us, we know how much time, energy and effort family caregivers have sacrificed in order to give their loved ones the best quality of life they can.
“Sadly, filling a caregiving role for a loved one is often a thankless job. When family members risk their own health and sacrifice their lifestyle to care for a loved one, they deserve to be appreciated and celebrated.”
5 Ways to Celebrate Family Caregivers
During National Family Caregiver’s Month (and all year long), it’s important to recognize the hard work that goes into caring for a loved one with dementia. To ensure their loved ones are healthy, happy and safe, family caregivers often give up their occupations, change their living arrangements, sacrifice time spent with friends, and risk their own health. Stress, depression, high blood pressure, fatigue and insomnia are just a few of the health issues they may face.
To celebrate caregivers’ efforts in meaningful ways, you can try to give back a portion of what they have given up in order to care for their loved one. Consider the following ideas for celebrating a caregiver you know:
- Give the Gift of Respite Care – Whether it’s for the afternoon or the whole week, respite care gives caregivers a much-needed break to take care of other responsibilities or have some time for themselves. They can truly enjoy their time off knowing that their loved ones are taken care of.
You can provide respite care yourself, offering to care for their loved one for the day while they run errands or spend time with friends. Many senior living communities also provide short-term respite stays and day programs where loved ones can enjoy professional care and the comforts of the community, while family caregivers go on vacation or simply enjoy a reprieve to focus their attention on self-care or other parts of their lives besides caregiving. Giving the gift of respite care can have great rejuvenating benefits for caregivers.
- Take Away a Task – If you would like to make life just a little bit easier for a caregiver long-term, offer to take over a specific task that they have to do regularly. Perhaps they need to refill their loved one’s prescriptions every month. Offer to take the pharmacy run off their plate by picking up and delivering the medicine to their door. Or, offer to bring them a home-cooked meal every Sunday (be sure you understand their loved one’s dining needs first). Those caring for loved ones often do more work than they should have to alone, so any task you can take away will help ease their burden.
- Coordinate a Team of Care Partners – In some circumstances, caring for a loved one all by oneself is just too much for a person to bear. If you know someone who is struggling to balance all the responsibilities of providing care, they may benefit greatly from a team approach to caregiving. Having multiple people at the ready to support the primary caregiver can help to alleviate stress and burnout, which ultimately benefits the person with dementia, too.
Help the person create a team of family members, neighbors, close friends and medical professionals who are willing to help out with care responsibilities. Then, set up a Facebook group or group email where everyone can keep in touch. The primary caregiver will have a team of partners available whenever he or she needs help.
- Throw a Party or Dinner in Their Honor – Let a caregiver know just how much they are appreciated by the rest of their family and everyone special in their loved one’s life. Plan a get-together to celebrate them or host a dinner in their honor. Just be sure you won’t be putting any extra stress on them. Set up respite care for their loved one ahead of time, and perhaps avoid any surprises that might make them worry about their schedule or care duties.
- Shower Them with Encouragement – Make the entire month special by showering the caregiver with encouragement. Plan a card shower, secretly asking everyone they know to send cards to brighten their day and remind them how much they are appreciated. Even simple gestures such as giving a small gift or giving them a chance to vent about their frustrations can be meaningful. You could locate an Alzheimer’s support group nearby and offer to drive them to meetings. There are plenty of ways you can encourage a caregiver.
We’re Here for Families
“Clarity Pointe Pensacola is dedicated to families caring for loved ones with dementia,” says Bentley, “and we offer several opportunities for them to find support at our community. From respite stays and adult day programs to support groups and free educational events, we strive to make sure that family caregivers and their loved ones have access to helpful resources to make their journeys easier.”
If you would like to know more about how Clarity Pointe supports families, contact us today.
Clarity Pointe™ … Our Difference is Clear
Clarity Pointe™’s Specialized Memory Care “Living” Neighborhoods are truly changing lives for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias – and for those who love them. At Clarity Pointe, our mission is to ensure our residents lead connected and rewarding lives.
Unlike other providers that offer a secure memory care wing in a skilled nursing or assisted living center, Clarity Pointe Pensacola offers three free-standing, purpose-built memory care communities that are solely and entirely dedicated to memory care assisted living. Our communities blend luxurious surroundings with specialized care that is individualized to each resident and delivered by a compassionate, expert team of professionals.
We stay current on the latest trends and advancements in Alzheimer’s care and implement them into our residents’ care plans. Always moving forward, we combine the latest in evidence-based programming with luxurious, residential living and compassionate respectful care.
For each of our residents, we offer a life that is engaging, fulfilling, inspiring and meaningful.