Caring for Caregivers

Next month four former U.S. Surgeon Generals will appear at the International Council on Active Aging in Orlando, Florida, to demand a national infrastructure to help family caregivers. Paula Spencer Scott reports in a recent Parade magazine article that they hope to draw attention to the burden of responsibility that family members now face–often without help–in taking care of their loved ones with memory loss.

Taking care of a spouse, parent, or sibling with dementia can be overwhelming, exhausting, and isolating. But there is help.

Technology

  • Clocks that are easy to read and provide year, month, date, and time are one helpful device. These clocks may help to alleviate some people’s anxiety since those in early stages of dementia often lose their sense of time. (See this article for a more details: https://www.alzheimers.net/9-10-14-clocks-for-dementia/).
  • Appliance use monitors can really provide caregivers with peace of mind. If your loved one is still able to home alone for periods of time, you can still be assured that he or she is safe by using devices such as Evermind monitors that track your loved one’s use of their electrical appliances. “A small, white Evermind box plugs into a wall outlet or power strip, with the appliance plugged into the box. Using built-in wireless Internet, Evermind alerts you if the appliances your loved one normally uses each day have not been turned on or off. Compatible appliances include microwave ovens, coffee makers, TVs, lamps, curling irons, CPAP machines, garage door openers and more. No home Internet connection is required” (Caregivers.com).
  • Tracking devices can be used to make sure your loved one is not wandering or leaving the house or yard. Alzheimers.net has a list of some of the most popular and useful of these GPS tracking devices.
  • Motion sensors can also be helpful. Pads for beds and monitors can alert caregivers if their loved one gets out of bed in the night.

Community

Caregivers are not alone on their caregiving journey. Others are available and willing to help.

  • If you are comfortable on Facebook, you can find at least 11 groups of caregivers who can provide you with a sense of community. You will find others who are going through what you are experiencing, or perhaps you can share your experiences with others who need your help.
  • Veterans and families of veterans have a couple of caregiver groups to help. The Elizabeth Dole Foundation has created a website and caregiver network (also on Facebook) for veterans who are caregivers or for caregivers of veterans. See the Hidden Heroes website for more information and to connect with others.
  • A local caregivers support group meets every Friday at 9:30 a.m. at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in River Falls.

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