Alzheimer's: How to help a caregiver

Alzheimer's care is a round-the-clock job. When you offer to help an Alzheimer's caregiver, be specific — and gently persistent. By Mayo Clinic Staff

Alzheimer's caregivers need all the support they can get. If you know someone who's caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer's disease, here's how to help.

Be specific

When someone you care about is going through a difficult time, you might say, "Let me know how I can help." It's a nice gesture, but such offers can be difficult to accept — primarily because they're not specific. Instead, make concrete offers of help.

For example:

  • "I'm going to the grocery store. What can I pick up for you?"
  • "I've got a couple of hours free tomorrow afternoon. May I sit in for you while you run a few errands or take some time for yourself?"
  • "I doubled my meatloaf recipe so that I could share it with you. I brought enough to last you for several meals."
  • "Do you need some laundry done? I can pick it up today and bring it back clean tomorrow."
  • "Does your yard need to be mowed? I'd be happy to take care of it this weekend."

Sometimes sending a card or making a phone call to check in on a caregiver means a lot. Emails and text messages work, too — but often personal visits are even better. Contact with the outside world can help lift a caregiver's spirits.

Jun. 28, 2012 See more In-depth