A caregiver, sometimes referred to as a caretaker, refers to anyone who provides care for another person. Millions of people living in the United States take care of a friend or family member with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. Sometimes caregivers live with the person or nearby, other times they live far away. For many families, caring for a person with dementia isn’t just one person’s job, but the role of many people who share tasks and responsibilities. No matter what kind of caregiver you are, taking care of another person can be overwhelming at times. These tips and suggestions may help with everyday care and tasks.
Early on in Alzheimer’s and related dementias, people experience changes in thinking, remembering, and reasoning in a way that affects daily life and activities. Eventually, people with these diseases will need more help with simple, everyday tasks. This may include bathing, grooming, and dressing. It may be upsetting to the person to need help with such personal activities. Here are a few tips to consider early on and as the disease progresses:
Communication can be hard for people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias because they have trouble remembering things. They also can become agitated and anxious, even angry. In some forms of dementia, language abilities are affected such that people have trouble finding the right words or have difficulty speaking. You may feel frustrated or impatient, but it is important to understand that the disease is causing the change in communication skills. To help make communication easier, you can:
Eating healthy and staying active is good for everyone and is especially important for people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias. As the disease progresses, finding ways for the person to eat healthy foods and stay active may be increasingly challenging. Here are some tips that may help:
As a caregiver or family member to a person with Alzheimer’s or related dementias, you can take steps to make the home a safer place. Removing hazards and adding safety features around the home can help give the person more freedom to move around independently and safely. Try these tips:
The National Institute on Aging funds Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers across the U.S. that offer support groups and programs for people with dementia and their families.
Being a caregiver can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming. Caring for a person with Alzheimer's or a related dementia takes time and effort. It can feel lonely and frustrating. You might even feel angry, which could be a sign you are trying to take on too much. It is important to find time to take care of yourself. Here are some tips that may offer some relief:
Read and share this infographic from NIA to help spread the word about caring for yourself while caring for others.
Making health care decisions for someone who is no longer able to do so can be overwhelming. That’s why it is important to plan health care directives in advance. To help plan for the future, you can:
Learning about your loved one’s disease will help you know what to expect as the dementia progresses and what you can do.
What steps can you take now to prepare for health care, finance, long-term care, and end-of-life decisions?
Explore the resources on this website and linked below to find more information from federal government agencies.
Learn how to respond to changes in communication and behavior, provide everyday care, and get help when needed.
Explore free publications from NIA on Alzheimer’s and related dementias, caregiving, and healthy aging. Also available in Spanish.
Use this free public service by searching online or calling toll-free to get connected to services in your community.
Learn about caregivers in the United States, the impact of providing care, and how to develop a care plan. Also available in Spanish.
Read about the responsibilities of caregiving and avenues for getting help, and find links to information on specific care topics. Also available in Spanish.
Get free publications from NINDS on dementia. Also available in Spanish.
Find a support line, caregiver support coordinator, programs specific to caregivers of veterans, and other resources such as self-care activities and tips and tools. Also available in Spanish.
The Alzheimer’s & related Dementias Education & Referral (ADEAR) Center is a service of the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health. Call 800-438-4380 or email email@example.com to talk with an information specialist.
This content is provided by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure it is accurate and up to date.