Are you the primary caregiver for a parent, grandparent, or other loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease? If so, you already know how emotionally and physically draining it can be to care for a dementia patient. Unless you have been formally trained in the medical field, you likely find yourself performing a full-time job, for which you have no training or education, and for which you are not compensated. Sadly, as the disease progresses, your loved one may no longer recognize you nor acknowledge the care you provide. To help make your life just a little easier, a Los Angeles elder law attorney at the Collins Law Firm has put together several tips for Alzheimer’s caregivers.
Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures
Although Alzheimer’s is not a new disease, its prevalence has skyrocketed in recent years. Considering some of the following facts and figures provided by the Alzheimer’s Association:
- Each year, over 11 million Americans provide unpaid care for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
- In 2021, these caregivers provided more than 16 billion hours of care valued at nearly $272 billion.
- Someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s about every minute
- 1 in 3 seniors will die with Alzheimer’s
- There are currently over 6 million people living with Alzheimer’s in the U.S.
- By 2050, experts estimate the number of people living with Alzheimer’s will be around 13 million.
Tips for Caregivers
If you are one of the millions of unpaid caregivers for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s, every aspect of your life has likely been impacted by your caregiver responsibilities. Hopefully, some of the following tips will make your life, and your caregiving responsibilities, a little easier.
- Educate yourself. The more you know about Alzheimer’s disease, the better prepared you will be to provide the care your loved one needs, and the longer your loved one will likely be able to avoid the need for long-term care. There are a number of excellent resources for information on Alzheimer’s, including the Alzheimer’s Association. Also, be sure to consult with your loved one’s doctors on a regular basis to make sure you are meeting his/her specific needs.
- Organize your caregiving. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be a full-time job, whether paid or not. To make more efficient use of your time, organize your caregiving as if it was an actual job. Create files and folders for information. Use a schedule and keep notes.
- Make use of resources. Fortunately, there are several federal, state, and local resources for Alzheimer’s sufferers and those who care for them. AARP, for instance, has a lot of useful information and support on its website for caregivers.
- Delegate responsibilities. Don’t be afraid to ask other family members, friends, and even neighbors for help when you need it. Most people are actually willing to help but need to be asked or directed to how, when, and where they can pitch in with the caregiving responsibilities.
- Take care of yourself. This is particularly difficult for natural-born caregivers. If you are one, you probably put your needs at the very bottom of the list, figuring you’ll get to them after everyone else’s needs. You need to remember that you are a much better caregiver to others when you are healthy, rested, and happy.
- Don’t forget the legalities. Unfortunately, a cure for Alzheimer’s has yet to be discovered, meaning your loved one’s condition will eventually deteriorate. At some point, your loved one will lose the legal ability to consent to anything, such as giving you power of attorney or executing a Last Will and Testament. Make sure all important legal documents and decisions are handled before your loved one’s condition worsens or you will end up spending a considerable amount of time and money trying to accomplish the same things in court.
Contact a Los Angeles Elder Law Attorney
If you have additional questions or concerns related to caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, consult with an experienced Los Angeles elder law attorney. Contact the Collins Law Firm by calling (310) 677-9787 to register for one of our FREE estate planning workshops.