Alzheimer’s caregivers need support

Editor’s note: In this guest post, Anna Preston, a consultant with Live-In Care Hub, a UK non-profit organization, discusses the needs of caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients and provides resources these caregivers can access to get the support they may need.

By Anna Preston (Live-In Care Hub, a UK non-profit)

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are more than 670,000 people in the UK [according to the CDC, 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s disease] who are caring for people with dementia and these are mostly unpaid, caring for relatives or friends. And while this saves, at the last count in 2014, some £11 billion per annum, the emotional and physical toll on carers is largely unrecorded.

Many dementia patients are cared for through in home care services with professional care staff who receive professional support and training. However, some are dependent on family members or friends who can easily become overwhelmed by the onerous task of caring 24/7 for a person with dementia. There’s no doubt that caring for a dementia patient takes a huge amount of dedication, time and effort whether you’re a professional carer or not and the emotional burden can weigh heavy on you. That’s why you should do everything you can to obtain support and help from friends, family and professional colleagues.

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The Alzheimer’s Society

The Society works continually to pressure local authorities and GPs to follow the guidelines laid down by the Care Act to assess the support needs of carers and provide support where necessary. The Alzheimer’s Society provides a dementia directory for carers seeking support in their local area. Their dementia support line can be reached on 0333 150 3456 or you can access a range of online services on Find support near you in the UK and in the US.

The NHS provides plenty of guidance for those who may not see themselves as an official carer but who nevertheless require a level of support along with advice on how to get it. This includes advice on how to apply for a carer’s assessment and check eligibility for financial support.

The Alzheimer’s Society is also calling for extra financial help for unpaid dementia carers. The Society believes that the carers’ allowance should be increased and that the unjust cap on carers’ earnings, currently at £102 per week, should be ended in order to increase the numbers of carers.

Ongoing training

Dementia research is continually assessing the causes and effects of dementia on not only those suffering from it but also those caring for a dementia sufferer. Dementia is a condition that doesn’t stand still, it progresses and the changes in a sufferer’s personality can be difficult for a carer to cope with, even for a professional elderly live-in care provider who is trained in looking after dementia patients. This is why ongoing training in care practices and up-to-date advice along with emotional support is the cornerstone of the Alzheimer’s Society’s remit.

All the professional and charitable care societies are in agreement that carers need quality home care support for daily tasks and regular respite care. Peer support from online or local groups is invaluable and should be open to all dementia carers.

The Carers Trust is working hard to ensure carers receive as much up-to-date information and advice as possible, as soon as it becomes available. The Trust is a large charity that aims to provide support for those who provide unpaid care in any capacity.

Anna Preston has written these other articles that caregivers might find useful:

Anna PrestonAnna Preston is a consultant with Live-In Care Hub, a not-for-profit organization committed to raising the quality of elderly care in the UK by giving everyone the opportunity to be cared for in their own home, where they can still feel part of their community.


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