Caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be a challenging responsibility and emotionally draining at times, especially as the disease progresses and the patient’s ability to manage daily tasks declines. In commemoration of National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and National Caregivers Month, On Lok – a pioneer and world leader in Programs for All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) – recognizes the caregivers who take on the important role of caring for a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in 2016, almost 15.9 million family and friends provided 18.2 billion hours of unpaid assistance to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. About two-thirds of caregivers are women, and 34 percent are age 65 or older. Also, approximately one quarter of dementia caregivers are “sandwich generation” caregivers — meaning that they care not only for an aging parent, but also for children under age 18.
When faced with the responsibility of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, many caregivers may find themselves in a new and unfamiliar role. In some cases, caregivers are concerned about their ability to care for the person living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, especially as the disease progresses and other medical issues surface. However, by taking necessary steps, caregivers can help the person living with Alzheimer’s or dementia maintain a sense of independence and at the same time reduce their own level of stress and anxiety. When caring for a loved one, consider the following:
Jay Luxenberg, M.D., is chief medical doctor at On Lok Lifeways, and has served as co-chair of the Alzheimer’s/Dementia Expert Panel for the Mayor’s office, City and County of San Francisco.
On Lok Lifeways (part of the On Lok family of senior services) is a comprehensive health plan that provides long-term care for eligible seniors living in San Francisco and parts of the Bay Area. The program offers full medical care and support services with the goal of helping seniors live at home and in the community for as long as possible.