(ARA) - Alzheimer's takes a toll on more than just the 5 million Americans living with the disease. The millions of unpaid caregivers for patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) carry a high risk of poor health. While caregiving can be rewarding, it also can be a long and difficult journey, which often affects work, finances, relationships and health. Caregiving is a responsibility that requires encouragement and resources. Caregivers sometimes may be too overwhelmed, frustrated or depressed to seek out the help they need.
To help caregivers navigate the challenges of caring for a loved one with AD, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation and Leeza Gibbons, Alzheimer's caregiving advocate and Emmy-winning TV and radio personality, launched a new educational campaign called "Stand Together for AD: Strength and Support for Alzheimer's."
Caregivers can visit www.AlzheimersDisease.com for tips on coping and staying healthy, and for access to a new caregiver support program.
"My family and I cared for my mother for nearly 10 years as she battled Alzheimer's. Watching her decline felt like an emotional, physical and spiritual assault, which every member of my family dealt with individually," says Gibbons. "I learned so much from that experience - most importantly that being a caregiver is not something you can do alone. The mission of 'Stand Together for AD' is close to my heart because it will educate Alzheimer's caregivers and empower them to seek and receive support they may need to get through their difficult and brave journey."
Here are some tips from Gibbons to help caregivers ensure their own well-being:
Work to lower stress by recognizing signs of strain early, identifying their sources and taking action to reduce the stress when possible.
Set overarching goals to be accomplished in the next three to six months and smaller steps to ensure they are achieved.
Focus on your contributions as a caregiver, praising yourself rather than feeling guilty at perceived deficiencies.
Know that you will be enough, that you can do it. Optimism can be an important weapon.
Join a support group to get encouragement and advice from other caregivers who are going through the same thing.
Stay connected with friends and family, and let them know how they can help by preparing a list of what you need and letting others pitch in.
It's never too late to ask for help and find the strength and support you need. Visit www.AlzheimersDisease.com today to get started.