Starting Tips for the Alzheimer's Caregiver

Caregiving calls for loving hands -- and hearts.
Caregiving calls for loving hands -- and hearts. | Source

“Before the players on my football team took the field, we studied and learned everything we could about the team we were playing,” writes Coach Frank Broyles. “Preparation is the key to facing any opponent.”

Coach Broyles, engagaged in Alzheimer’s research when his wife Barbara was diagnosed with the disease. His football coach’s play book is the pattern for Coach Broyles’ Playbook for Alzheimer’s Caregivers.

The coach recommends, “Learn all you can about Alzheimer’s disease. It will help you prepare for the months and years ahead.”


Gather Some Resources

Coach Broyles Playbook for Alzheimer's Caregivers can be purchased in nineteen languages. It is a great resource, simple but detailed in 110 pages. It explains the three stages of the disease - early, middle and late.

Subheadings under each stage compare with the layout of the football game:

  • pre-game planning
  • coaches and special teams
  • playing offense
  • playing defense
  • the training table.

The book comes with a 17 page booklet on Tips and Strategies which gives very practical and insightful explanation of the patient's behavior and suggestive helps for the caregiver.

Other Resources

Alzheimers.gov for people helping people with Alzheimer's offers valuable research information; video tapes and transcripts on different facets of the disease and links to the Alzheimer's Association, National Institute on Aging, VA Caregiver Support and other resource sites. Under their Caring for Someone page, there are questions and answers on everyday challenges and caregiving process.

Making Life With Alzheimer’s Easier by Lianna Marie Doherty deals with all the regular Alzheimer’s information; but in addition, it teaches practical ways to make the life of the Alzheimer's patient easier—how to understand her emotions, how to relate to her in a way that lessens her stress and frustration, foods she should avoid, and also how to deal with the caregiver’s emotions. It also contains stories of the author and other people who have been affected by Alzheimer's.


Share Your Feelings

Sharing my situation in How Alzheimer’s Upset My Mother’s Life and Mine paid off in great dividends. Many people responded by sharing their experiences with Alzheimer’s people they know or have cared for. One of the precious letters I received came from someone who was an only child like I am. Her report of caring for her mother really empowered me to believe that I could do as effective a job as she did. It gave me a sense of connection which I will forever cherish.

Share your feelings and resist the temptation to think that nobody cares, when in fact, there are many others who have their feelings bottled up inside, waiting to share with one who needs to hear.


Pick a Support Team

Coach Broyles compares the Alzheimer’s caregiver to the quarterback who needs the cooperation of the entire football team in order to score points. It is your job as a prospective caregiver to find and select family members who are available and solicit their support.

If the patient needs company twenty-four hours, the caregiver will need regular breaks—personal care time, time for spiritual and emotional nourishment at a worship service or prayer meeting, time to socialize so she does not lose contact with the outside world. Alzheimer’s caregiving cannot be a one-man show, not only for the caregiver’s personal benefit, but also because the loved one will not receive the best care from someone who is tired and frustrated. A good support team ensures that the caregiver is allowed time to exhale, refresh and reset.


Select a Primary Backup Helper

Apart from the daily responsibilities of caregiving, there are some essential matters to be handled. At some point medical care, bills to be paid, and legal matters concerning property will become too complicated for the patient. The caregiver needs access to all the pertinent information, but what if the caregiver should become too sick to manage, disabled or worse? A back-up helper should be selected before any such crisis occurs.

The primary backup helper may be selected from the support team, or may be some other family member who is acquainted with their arrangements. It would be wise for all concerned to know beforehand, so that there is no confusion when it is time for action.


Locate a Support Group

Members of the support team meet, share phone calls or emails, or write newsletters to encourage each other. To get help finding a support group in the United States, call the Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregiver Center at 800.272.3900.

On my Caribbean island of Saint Kitts, there is no organized support for caregivers. Alzheimer’s though cruel to the families of the few victims on the island, has not gained enough attention to warrant national consideration. On World Health Rankings (2010) Alzheimers/Dementia occupies the 16th slot in causes of death. That translates to 6 deaths (1.75%).

Below is a fifteen-minute video in which caregivers tell their story and demonstrate how community support can be helpful. It is worth the time to watch. Caregivers in other communities might get helpful ideas.

Focus on Staying Healthy

Health, physical as well as mental, is super-important to the caregiver. Basic rules of proper nutrition, adequate rest and regular exercise cannot be ignored. Food supplements are as important to the caregiver as they are to the patient.

Throughout the day, create and maintain a mood of peace, joy and contentment through:

  • inspiring messages on radio or tape
  • songs with uplifting lyrics
  • motivational poems and quotes
  • humorous videos
  • dance

The caregiver’s preparation includes resources which, if habitually used, can negate the need for drugs as mood enhancers, tranquilizers or energizers. The state of the caregiver’s mind will determine the outcome of her struggles between faith and fear, hope and despair, serenity and worry.


Make your requests be known unto God.
Make your requests be known unto God. | Source

Solicit Prayer

“Have you tried prayer?” is sometimes asked as an afterthought when everything else has failed. It comes at the end of this article as “last but in no way least.” Prayer must be a habit for the caregiver.

The prayers of friends and supporters are also necessary. Submit your prayer requests to people who care, to prayer groups in your church and community, and even solicit prayer online. Never underestimate the power of prayer.

© 2012 Dora Isaac Weithers

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Comments 12 comments

Michele Travis profile image

Michele Travis 4 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

This is a very good caring and loving hub. Thank you so much for writing it. As medical care gets better, people get older and Alzheimer's becomes more common. Teaching us how to care for people we love is wonderful. Being confused or not knowing how to help or care for someone we love is frustrating and horrible.

Voted up

God bless you.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 4 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Michele, I appreciate your input. Writing this is part of the learning process for me. Thanks for the vote.


Nikki Major profile image

Nikki Major 4 years ago

Great hub MsDora....there's no doubt in my mind somebody needs this information....it could be any of us at any moment....


MsDora profile image

MsDora 4 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks, Nikki. I did not know a few weeks ago that I would need it right now, but I do. Hope it can help someone else.


Mama Kim 8 profile image

Mama Kim 8 4 years ago

Wonderful advise for anyone undertaking such a difficult position. You are a wonderful daughter, you mom is very lucky to have you! Voted up and useful.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 4 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks, Mama Kim. I also feel lucky to have a wonderful HubFriend like you. You're so kind and encouraging.


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 3 years ago from Oklahoma City

You've provided wonderful resources, insights and ideas for those who find themselves as caregivers for someone with Alzheimer's disease. Thanks, too, for the reminder that although we may feel alone and in a situation no one else could understand, there are many others out there who feel just as we do -- we just need to reach out.

Great hub; voted up and Shared.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks LL for your kind comment and your votes. I appreciate you.


elderadvisor 3 years ago from Connecticut

Ms. Dora thank you for writing about this subject. Alzheimer's is a terrible disease that affects the person and the family. Your resources are fantastic and will truly be a help to those not sure where to turn.

Voted up useful and interesting.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks, Elder. I live with my mother who is an Alzheimer's victim. "Terrible" is a good word for the disease. Glad if I can help someone else.


Smireles profile image

Smireles 3 years ago from Texas

This is a helpful hub. Thank you for taking the time to research this information. Living with Alzheimers is difficult and painful for family members. I do not have a relative with Alzheimers, but my mother had periods of memory loss during her final illness and it was difficult telling her about the past six months when she did not remember Christmas or her Christmas presents. Blessings.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Smireles, I appreciate you reading and commenting. There is still so much to learn. Happy for you if you never have to be an Alzheimer's caregiver. Blessings on you, too.

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