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Caring for yourself and for others

MUNCY — For the 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, daily life can present many challenges with communication, engagement with others and caring for themselves. Many emotions may also be present such as denial, sadness, confusion and anger as the person deals with the diagnosis.

More than 16 million American’s are providing unpaid care for individual’s living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, caregivers provide an estimated 18.5 billion hours valued at nearly $234 billion.

Caregiving can become so overwhelming and stressful, that your own physical, mental and emotional well-being can be put at risk.

Warning sings of caregiver stress can be denial, anger, anxiety, depression, fatigue and health problems.

To avoid neglecting your own health consider the following tips:

Visit your primary care physician regularly

Stress can cause physical problems such as an upset stomach or blurred vision. Note all your symptoms and discuss them with your physician. Ignoring the symptoms can cause your physical and mental health to decline. Make sure you are as a healthy as you can be to help you be a better caregiver. Eat well, be physically active and establish a routine that promotes adequate rest.

Seek community resources

Adult day programs, in-home care and meal delivery are some of the services available to assist in managing the daily tasks of caregiving. Consider respite services to allow you to take a break from caregiving but ensure your loved one is in a safe and secure environment. Consider attending a local support group. Contact the Alzheimer’s Association or Alzheimer’s Foundation of America for additional support and resources available in your community.

Accept changes, become educated

There are programs available to help caregivers better understand and cope with common changes that may occur as the person you are caring for transitions through the disease.

Create legal, financial plans

Having the important and necessary plans in place such as a Power of Attorney, Advanced Directive and other final documents will provide comfort for the family in the midst of an emergency or when making a difficult decision. Seek advice from a legal professional specializing in elder law.

You are doing your best

Remember the care you are providing is making a difference in the life of your loved one. Accept help from those around you that are offering their support.

— Koehler is the director at Liberty Manor Adult Day Services.

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