Clover Health Offers Tips to Help Care For Loved Ones With Dementia In Recognition of World Alzheimer's Month
Savannah physician encourages caregivers to implement consistent daily routines, create a safe living space, and seek outside support to avoid burnout
SAVANNAH, GA (September 25, 2019) – Alongside World Alzheimer’s Month this September, Clover Health is sharing advice for the more than 15 million family members and friends caring for loved ones affected by the disease, including ways to keep both patients and caregivers as safe and healthy as possible.
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, affecting an estimated more than 5.5 million Americans, the majority of whom are 65 or older. Further, the percentage of adults diagnosed with Alzheimer’s increases with age — while just 3 percent of adults age 65-74 have Alzheimer’s dementia, that number increases to 17 percent of those age 75-84, and 32 percent of adults age 85 and older.
Yet Alzheimer's disease impacts not only the individual suffering, but also their loved ones.
Clover, a Medicare Advantage insurer, is dedicated to keeping Chatham County's seniors healthy as they age. The company is teaming up with Dr. Benjamin Watson, an in-network Clover physician from SouthCoast Health in Savannah, to offer tips as a useful starting point when dealing with a recent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
Get familiar with the disease. As a caregiver, it's crucial to first understand the symptoms and progression of Alzheimer's, including the differences between early-, middle-, and late-stage caregiving. For instance, while someone with early-stage dementia may be almost entirely independent, later-stage sufferers will require much more hands on support for daily activities such as eating, bathing, and using the bathroom. The Alzheimer’s Association website is a great place to start to find information about all aspects of the disease including stages and behaviors, care options, financial and legal planning, safety and caregiver health. They also have a 24/7 helpline (800.272.3900) to answer any questions or discuss concerns.
Take necessary safety precautions. Because those suffering can experience impaired judgement and problem solving, it is crucial to evaluate potential hazards in the individual's living space. This may include moving extension cords, eliminating clutter, installing grab bars and locks on cabinets, and moving anything flammable (e.g. matches and lighters) or poisonous (e.g. cleaning supplies) to a less accessible area.
Implement a routine. Establishing a daily routine can allow you to conquer the tasks that require the most attention while the person with Alzheimer’s is most refreshed, according to the Mayo Clinic. Routines can also reduce frustration, facilitate repetition and ease, and establish an orderly schedule to shape the day — vital skills for patients and caregivers alike.
Find a support system: Caregiving for anyone with a chronic disease, including Alzheimer's, is a huge undertaking, and it's important to seek additional support. Consider reaching out to family members, friends, and members of the caregiving community, both online, through message boards like AlzConnected, and in-person through groups such as the Family Caregiver Alliance. Also, remember to take time for yourself to disconnect and maintain your own health, while staying mindful of common signs of caregiver stress such as irritability, social withdrawal and sleeplessness. It’s also important to take care of yourself by exercising, eating well, and getting adequate sleep to make sure you can provide the best care possible for your loved one.