(BPT) - Taking care of an ill loved one is never easy, but for the 15 million Americans who provide care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the emotional and financial toll of caregiving can be overwhelming. Last year, caregivers provided more than 17 billion hours of unpaid care for AD patients, amounting to $216 billion of care, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. They often experience emotional stress, depression, health problems of their own and a loss of wages, the Association reports.
“It’s important for caregivers to take care of themselves as well, and to help those they care for find treatment options that can make it easier for both patient and caretaker to better manage Alzheimer’s symptoms,” says Dr. Richard S. Isaacson*, associate professor of neurology and director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention & Treatment Program at Weill Cornell Medical College and a respected AD researcher who has several family members with the disease. “Just as there is no one solution for managing Alzheimer’s symptoms, caregivers need to employ a suite of tactics in coping with their responsibilities – from stress-relieving habits and regular medical care for themselves, as well education about nutritional therapy and medication for patients.”
Caregivers should keep in mind that helping themselves stay well is also helping the people for whom they’re caring. If you’re taking care of a loved one with AD, here are some ways you can help both yourself and the person in your care:
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