Alzheimer's caregiving: How to ask for help

Alzheimer's caregiving isn't a one-person task — and friends and loved ones may be more willing to help than you'd think. Here's help reaching out.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Alzheimer's caregiving is a tough job, and it's difficult for one person to handle alone. No one is equipped to care for another person 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you're caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer's disease, understand the stress you're facing — and know how to ask for help.

What's happening

At first, you might be able to meet your loved one's needs yourself. This might last months or even years, depending on how quickly the disease progresses and your own mental and physical health. Eventually, however, your loved one will need more help with everyday tasks, such as eating, bathing and toileting.

And just as the physical demands of Alzheimer's caregiving increase, so can the emotional toll. Challenging dementia-related behaviors can strain the coping skills of even the most patient and understanding Alzheimer's caregiver.

The sustained stress of Alzheimer's caregiving also can weaken your immune system, leaving you more likely to get sick and stay sick longer. You might sleep poorly and have trouble setting aside time for yourself. Alzheimer's caregiving might also increase your risk of depression. Before you know it, you're so busy caring for your loved one that you could drift away from your family and friends — at a time when you need them the most.

Mar. 01, 2014 See more In-depth