On September 2nd, the New York Times featured a story, written by Constance Gustke, about a couple struggling after the wife fell under the spell of early-onset Alzheimer's. The Times wrote, "He quit his job as a well-paid sales represenative in the printing industry and becamse his wife's 24-hour caregiver: dressing her, doing laundry and scheduling social visits with friends. Faith, hope and courage became his new mantra." The experience of caregiving can make a caregiver "a richer, deeper person, but it has also proved costly emotionally and financially." View the full story of the Donham's here, as we read about the importance of caring for yourself, while caring for others.
Here is some advice for family caregivers from Andrea Cohen, CEO and Co-founder of HouseWorks.
- Get some sleep. Sleep deprivation plagues most family caregivers, and it makes coping with a difficult situation infinitely more difficult.
- Repeat ten times a day:“I don’t have to do everything myself.”
- Get advice from someone who really knows elder care, and don’t assume your parent’s doctors have the information you need. Start with the local Area Agency on Aging or a professional geriatric care manager. For contact information, call the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 or go to www.eldercare.gov.
- Put together a “care team” starting with a geriatric care manager. The care manager can guide you through the maze of eldercare options and assemble the rest of your team. At a minimum, you’re likely to need a financial planner, an elder law attorney, and a reliable home care company.
- Make a detailed list of everything that must be done for your parent and convene a family meeting to distribute the work fairly. Out-of-town siblings can be very helpful when they know what to do.
- Don’t isolate yourself. Connect with the millions of Americans who are in the same boat.Visiting a trustworthy on-line resource like Caregiver Action Network, is an easy way to get started.