In Alzheimer’s disease caregivers including family members and friends play an important role in overall care. Caregivers tend to provide more extensive assistance as the disease progresses. In this new and unfamiliar role, caregivers may feel unsure of where to find useful information and anxious about what to expect moving forward. It is important to keep in mind that caregivers who take better care of themselves are more likely to provide better care for their loved ones.1,2
In the early-stage of AD, most people function independently and the role of caregiver is to provide support and companionship, and help plan for the future.2,3
Providing support in everyday tasks can help the person with AD develop new coping strategies that will help maximize his or her independence. This early stage of AD allows time to obtain necessary legal, financial, medical, and social service information before the cognitive impairment might interfere with the decision-making skills of people with MCI due to AD.2,3
Being a caregiver for someone you love is a rewarding but emotionally charged experience. This section highlights potential areas you may find relevant to you to cope better and longer.1-3
iSupport is a free World Health Organization (WHO)-developed knowledge and skills training program to improve quality of life for caregivers. It provides, for example, training on how to relax if you do not have much time or energy, learning how to think differently to change unhelpful thoughts into helpful ones and how to deal with being a carer.4
Many countries offer several resources that can be very helpful. Please contact your local Alzheimer’s Association for information on medical, social and supportive care that is available in your area and could benefit the person you care for as well as yourself.5
Sharing your experiences and receiving advice from your support network can encourage you to best address your needs.
1. Grossberg GT, Christensen DD, Griffith PA, Kerwin DR, Hunt G, Hall EJ. The art of sharing the diagnosis and management of Alzheimer's disease with patients and caregivers: recommendations of an expert consensus panel. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2010;12(1).
2. Austrom MG, Lu Y. Long term caregiving: helping families of persons with mild cognitive impairment cope. Curr Alzheimer Res. 2009 Aug;6(4):392-8.
3. Alzheimer's Association: Early-Stage Caregiving, https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/stages-behaviors/early-stage. Accessed December 17, 2020.
4. World Health Organization: iSupport for Dementia. Training and support manual for carers of people with dementia, https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/324794/9789241515863-eng.pdf?ua=1. Accessed December 17, 2020.
5. Alzheimer Europe: Our members, https://www.alzheimer-europe.org/Alzheimer-Europe/Who-we-are/Our-members. Accessed December 17, 2020.
6. Alzheimer Europe: Attending self-help groups, https://www.alzheimer-europe.org/Living-with-dementia/After-diagnosis-What-next/Taking-care-of-yourself/Attending-self-help-groups. Accessed December 17, 2020.
7. Alzheimer’s Association: You are not alone, https://www.alz.org/help-support/i-have-alz/know-what-to-expect/just-diagnosed. Accessed December 17, 2020.