How to Support Your Loved One
During the Holidays

Caring for the Caregiver:
A Few More Tips
 

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TOGETHER WITH ALZHEIMER'S:
 CARE AND SUPPORT FOR THE CAREGIVER


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Caregiving is an experience that lands, uninvited and, often unexpectedly, on our doorstep. As we realize that the diagnosis of Alzheimer's requires a long term commitment to caregiving, we respond with many different feelings, from loss and sadness to resentment to quiet resignation to the arena into which we have been called.

Fortunately, there is a wealth of information about Alzheimer's/dementia to guide us along our way: Blogs, ezines, websites, support groups, trained physicians and health care providers as well as the experience of those who have walked the walk—former caregivers. November being a month of thanksgiving, we give thanks to those who share their
caregiving experience with us and honor them by highlighting the lessons they have mastered the hard way; lessons they would have gladly incorporated during the early days of their caregiving
journey, had the information been available. Here is their advice:

Create Balance Within Your Caregiving:
Even though you are blessed with intelligence, the patience of Job, fortitude, organizational and problem-solving skills, resourcefulness, energy,
etc, etc., you're going to need more. So use your skills well but don't rely exclusively on them. Take a step back. If you are new to caregiving, you probably won't believe what you're about to read: Caregiving is a complex activity that requires a team. While you may not believe it when your loved one is in the early stages of the disease, as time progresses, so do his needs. That's when caregiving becomes more than a forty or sixty-hour-a week job; eventually it demands twenty-four hours a day. To care for your loved one and remain healthy—you are going to need help.

While no one can
replace the relationship you have with your loved one, allowing others to assist will help maintain your health and your relationships with your family and your loved one. We can't say it enough: You may feel healthy enough when you first start caregiving, but as time goes on, you will learn that caregiving can exhaust you. Incorporating help early on will give your loved one time to develop relationships with the people you've invited to be part of your team.


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Dear Fellow Caregivers:

We usually reserve this issue to discuss ways in which to make the holidays enjoyable and safe for you and your loved one. With so many topics to discuss, we decided to focus on self-care for you the caregiver. However, we know how making a few adaptations can make the difference between celebrating the holidays and enduring them. To that end, we've included that information, which was created by experienced caregivers. With it, we send our best wishes for a peaceful Thanksgiving.

Caring for another teaches us much about the disease of Alzheimer's/dementia. Paradoxically, caregiving teaches us more about ourselves and the importance of gratitude. Let us be grateful for the precious gift of our loved ones, families, friends, and team members who enrich this, our journey.

May you and yours experience the quiet blessings of this season,
Catherine Gentile, Editor
Together With Alzheimer's Ezine
Email: ezine@catherinegentile.com
Website: http://www.catherinegentile.com



Holidays present special joys and challenges, particularly when a family member has Alzheimer's or another dementia. How does the caregiver strike a balance between honoring family traditions and orchestrating a get-together that is meaningful and pleasant? By reorganizing and recreating the ways in which they celebrate together. Yes, this is challenging but doable. Let's look at what other caregivers have done to survive and enjoy the holidays:

First, don't be afraid to trim your expectations. Remove those that aren't entirely necessary. If your goal is for the family to gather for a meal, ask someone else to organize the menu and assign everyone a dish. Or, go
for a potluck. If the meal is being held at your home, keep your preparation activities to the bare minimum, e.g., setting the table.

As with all things Alzheimer's, we can't expect our loved ones to adapt; we are the ones who must be flexible. So, if you're accustomed to having twenty people for Thanksgiving dinner, reduce it so your loved one won't be overwhelmed by the commotion.

Even if you reduce your guest list, be sure to have a quiet room to which your loved one can retreat when the stimulation becomes too much. 

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REMEMBER:

Being a caregiver is a tough job, one we can do,
especially when we have the right support. 

As Christopher Robin tells Pooh: 
           "Promise me you'll always remember:
You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think."

So are we. 

Caring for the Caregiver

1. Spend a few minutes a day taking notes on things you did with your loved one that worked and those that didn't. Keep a notebook for just this purpose. Reread it periodically, taking special note of your victories, what you have learned, and what you would like to learn.

2. Keep track of your goals, both
caregiving and personal, and make a plan to address them. Note every success, small or large, and, whenever possible, celebrate. Pursuing goals engages your heart and mind and offers hope.

3. Ask a trusted friend or relative to be your communications coordinator. Rather than spend time calling or emailing friends and relatives with updates re: your loved one, have the coordinator care of this for you. 

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TOGETHER WITH ALZHEIMER'S EZINE

November​​ 2018 ISSUE