AlzU Blog

The Importance of Having a Plan of Care for A Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease

According to a recent Gallup Poll, more than 1 in 6 working adults in the U.S. will be a caregiver for a family member, significant other or close friend-at some point in life.  Another recent poll indicated that caregivers’ emotional and physical health is by far, much worse overall than non-caregivers. 

Stress is one reason caregiving wreaks such havoc on the health of those who are closest to the person with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  One of the primary reasons that AD (and other debilitating diseases of aging) cause so much stress, is that far too often the diagnosis is made suddenly and the family is totally unprepared.  Grief and loss also play a part in the overall emotional strain of coping with a diagnosis of AD in the family. 

One way you can stave off much of the stress that comes along with being an AD caregiver is to have a plan of care in place in advance.  In other words, don’t wait until your loved one actually needs long term care before doing the research to find a facility that meets all of her/his needs.  Choosing to be proactive in each and every stage of the disease is a crucial part of well being for caregivers and their family members.  Engaging your loved one in the decision making process, while he/she is still able to make those decisions, can actually be empowering for the person with AD.

One way to prepare yourself for each turn of events in the ever changing saga of dealing with AD is to tune into what other caregivers have to say.  What better way to know in advance, just what you’ll be dealing with than to hear it first-hand from those who have been there.  Seeking out online resources (such as the Caregiver Forum on can be invaluable sources of information for new caregivers. 

Whether it’s finding the right physician, locating a nearby adult day center or hiring in-home medical help, those decisions can all be addressed and made before the time actual comes to implement each new plan of care.  This rings true for end of life planning as well.  Knowing exactly what your loved one prefers when it comes to funeral arrangements and other end of life events, will actually help relieve the stress and uncertainty that can accompany the tragedy of losing a loved one with AD.

Perhaps most importantly, working together as a family to create a plan of care for your loved one, before services are actually needed, will help reduce the number of disagreements and accompanying family/sibling strife that often times amplifies the stress levels for caregivers.  This is a time for family members to support each other and work together.  Decisions may be much easier to make in advance, before emotions run high.  During a time of crisis, it can be a lifesaver to be able to look back and know for certain the choices you are making today, are actually the ones your loved one with
AD decided on back when he/she was cognizant enough to have input. 

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