Stefanie helps families every day! Ask and read about common challenges here.
Due to an aging workforce, finding employees diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is becoming more common. While many people can remain at work in the early stages of the disease, each person’s situation is unique. Talk to your physician and caregiving team regarding how your current set of symptoms will impact your ability to work, and keep revisiting the conversation as your symptoms change. Depending on your particular job, you may need to transition out of work sooner than later, for example, if your job involves driving or utilizing skills that may be more challenging with Alzheimer’s.
If you are able to continue working, try to create a transition plan with your employer, perhaps reducing hours or taking a less demanding role. Educate your employer about the disease as you discuss your options, you may even want to bring a caregiver or advocate with you. You may find that your employer and even your Human Resources department may have had little training or exposure to the disease. Unfortunately, many companies that have stellar childcare benefits and support resources haven’t caught up with eldercare disease issues. Continue reading “I’ve Just Been Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s. Can I Still Work?” »
If you have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, one of the many difficult decisions you will face is when to hang up your car keys. Driving is such a routine freedom and pleasure that for most people it is quite painful to think about losing that independence. But the disease impacts the concentration and quick reactions that safe driving requires, so needing to stop is inevitable. The question of driving – whether to continue and if so, for how long – needs to be evaluated as part of your ongoing health planning.
You’re likely to have conflicted thoughts about giving up driving, so acknowledge and share your feelings about it. Talk with your caregiver about how the driving decision should be made, balancing your desire for continued independence with the need for everyone’s safety. In the early stages of the disease, you may be able to simply transition your driving to be more limited, perhaps only driving familiar, short drives during the daytime. You could use a GPS tracking device to reduce a caregiver’s concerns. Continue reading “Hanging up the Keys” »
Caregiving can be extremely rewarding, but all caregivers will eventually feel some degree of frustration, anger and guilt. These are all normal emotional responses to an incredibly emotional journey.
As a caregiver, you may feel frustrated and angry at your chaotic life, or your lack of control over the disease’s progression. Anger often evolves into guilt. You may feel like there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel, and have the guilty thought, “how much longer can this go on?” But understand, feelings can’t be denied. They can however be changed to some degree by adjusting your perspective; for example, you may feel less frustrated with your loved one’s acting out if you can remind yourself that they are not doing it on purpose, it is part of the disease. Continue reading “Taking Care of You – Part 3: The Guilty You” »
In recognition of Black History Month, I asked our African American Outreach Specialist Craig Wingate to talk about Alzheimer’s Association resources and information specifically for the African American community. Here is what he shared with me:
Not too many people know that African Americans are two times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. African American readers are probably saying to themselves, “Oh great, another disease we’re more likely to get.” So what now? Now is the time to start having conversations about this debilitating and fatal disease that robs individuals of their cognitive abilities. So many families see the symptoms (i.e. Mom is repeatedly asking the same questions, Dad can’t seem to pay his bills anymore, Mrs. Jean just gave away her social security check to another telemarketer), but ignore them or label them as “senior moments.”
Continue reading “Resources for African American Individuals and Families” »
The Physical You
For caregivers, just like being proactive is helpful in reducing mental stress, thinking preventatively is a vital step to ensure your physical well-being. Caregivers often forget there are inherent dangers to themselves and their loved ones while performing the physical demands of care. Lifting in particular, can be hazardous for your back, and unsafe should you hurt someone while moving them about. Daily care training is available. Along with considering your physical limitations, prioritize your own health when evaluating your overall caregiving needs. Continue reading “Taking Care of You – Part 2: The Physical You” »
Taking Care of You
As a caregiver of someone with Alzheimer’s disease you will likely hear many words of advice that start or end with, “don’t forget to take care of yourself.” Hmmmm.. .supportive advice, but sometimes easier said than done. To be candid, depending on your situation, taking care of yourself may in fact be an ongoing challenge. But you can do some small things along the way to help yourself and your overall family. In the next few blog posts we will talk about ways to take care of the “Mental You”, the “Physical You” and even the “Guilty You”.
The Mental You
As a caregiver, one of the best things you can do for your mental health is to be as proactive as possible. Hearing the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can be overwhelming in itself, but having to react to ongoing unknowns and constant surprises are much worse. Educate yourself on everything possible, starting with the disease and its progression. Continue reading “Taking Care of You – Part 1: The Mental You” »