From working with at-risk youth to helping families navigate the healthcare system, social workers provide wise guidance, a listening ear, and practical assistance. For families facing the challenge of dementia or other memory-related cognitive disorders, they are important members of the caregiving team.
If you’re caring for a loved one with dementia, how can a social worker help you? There are so many ways — here are just a few.
Offering Emotional Support
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia impacts the individual as well as the entire family. Responding to shifting family dynamics, as well as uncertainty over the future, can evoke a wide range of emotions.
The emergence of difficult behaviors such as aggression or wandering can blindside caregivers – leaving them feeling confused and unsure of how to respond.In addition to supporting families as they identify and process their emotions, social workers help normalize the process of caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Assisting With Locating Resources
Family members who are new to caregiving can be quickly overwhelmed by the information they’re learning and by the resources they need to locate. By necessity, social workers wear numerous hats – making them especially adept at helping families with a variety of issues, which may include:
- Determining if your loved one qualifies for community services
- Connecting families with community resources
- Assisting caregivers who are struggling with stress and burnout
- Providing education about your loved one’s condition, especially as it progresses
Social workers can also serve as your family’s communications director – connecting with the various professionals on your caregiving team and ensuring everyone is on the same page.
Providing Wise Counsel
Caregiving can be physically, mentally, and emotionally tiring. Social workers understand the struggles caregivers face and can provide a listening ear when needed most.
In addition to a shoulder to lean on, social workers can help you develop a care plan that may include self-care strategies or recommend counseling. Your social worker will check in regularly to ensure you are taking care of yourself and not suffering from burnout.
As your loved one progresses into the middle and later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, you will need to make more decisions on their behalf. When should they stop driving? Is it safe for them to live alone? Who will pay their bills? The list can seem overwhelming.Tension over treatment recommendations or caregiving roles is also common. Social workers are experts at guiding families through the decision-making process and helping family members navigate relational hurdles.
More Caregiver Resources
The Bristal Assisted Living salutes social workers for the support they offer families who are caring for loved ones with dementia.
Searching for more caregiving resources? Visit our “Where to Begin” page to learn more about assisted living and other options, understand costs, and find support for caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.