Alzheimer’s Disease is known as a family disease, because the stress of watching a loved one slowly decline is torturous for everyone involved. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease is a full-time job, and requires a lot of physical, mental, and emotional energy.
That’s why it’s so important for those providing memory care to take care of themselves too. Life with an Alzheimer’s patient can be all-consuming, and rightly so, because often this person is a beloved family member.
A great way to spend time with your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, as well as take care of oneself, is to exercise with them. Exercise is so important for people suffering from memory problems, as it can slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s. Get outside and take a walk together or go to the gym and have them ride the stationary bike if they are a little unstable. Breathe fresh air together, keep the heart working and the muscles active. This can do wonders for both caregiver and patient.
It helps if there are a handful of people that can take turns being with the loved one: family members, friends, nurses, in-home caregivers. Having a rotating schedule of helpers allows everyone to get reenergized in between sessions. Even if there isn’t a lot of physical work involved in being with the patient (though often there is cooking and cleaning and laundry and bathing to help with), it can be incredibly emotionally draining caring for someone who no longer remembers how to care for themselves.
Another option is an assisted living home. Sometimes we can only help the people we love so much. Sometimes the level of care they need is above and beyond what we are capable of giving. There are many assisted living homes dedicated to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, where they specialize in memory care and senior care. HarborView Senior Assisted Living in Banker’s Hill is one of those homes. The owners have seen their own loved ones suffer from memory problems, and so they created a place where people could come and be cared for and treated well.
Not only is HarborView Senior Assisted Living full of gentle, well-trained, and loving staff members, but it’s situated in Banker’s Hill with a gorgeous view of the bay. Along with exercise, I think we can all agree that seeing the ocean is another great form of therapy. Like Isak Dinesen says:
“The cure for anything is salt water. Sweat, tears, or the sea.”
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is hard. Don’t get pulled under with the current. Take a step today to keep your head above water. You are doing good, hard work. Be brave. Be kind. Keep fighting.