THE BLOG
02/25/2014 03:25 pm ET Updated Apr 25, 2014

How to Care for the Alzheimer's Caregiver in Your Life

For the millions of people from all over the globe that are dealing with Alzheimer's disease, the family and friends that act as their caregivers are instrumental to their everyday lives. These Alzheimer's caregivers are known by many as saints to those dealing with dementia, however, the average caregiver would only say they are doing what is right. Whether they are a son, daughter-in-law, spouse, sibling or friend of someone with Alzheimer's disease, these caregivers are so much more to those living with the disease.

These unsung heroes are faced with everyday challenges in their role as they are often tasked with handling virtually every detail of their loved one's lives. While these caregivers spend most of their days caring for another, it is important that they receive some care and attention of their own. Anyone who has an Alzheimer's caregiver in their lives needs to understand how they can care for these special individuals. Many experts have developed growing concern over the state of Alzheimer's caregivers -- revealing that these individuals are often under a great deal of constant stress.

According to reports, this stress impacts more than 15 million people who provide free care for loved ones with Alzheimer's disease. These individuals often spend less time taking care of themselves and find themselves at risk for a variety of different serious illnesses. Making sure that these individuals have extra support and care is essential. They also need breaks from their demanding schedules to spend time taking care of themselves. Virtually every Alzheimer's caregiver has dealt with their own individual struggles, and found their own individual ways of coping with these challenges. Message boards, online resources and books all provide stories and insight from real Alzheimer's caregivers sharing their experiences as a way to help others as they navigate the waters of this difficult situation.

Many specialists believe that caregivers are often the "hidden victims" of Alzheimer's disease and that many times these individuals face premature casualties due to the stressful situations that they put themselves in. Psychology and communication professionals alike have done various studies on the stress that familial caregivers deal with, finding new ways that these individuals can deal with their stress in a healthy manner.

This is why research is being done with doctors and occupational therapists as a way to help find successful stress coping mechanisms for these caregivers. As we wait for new advancements to develop, it is important that anyone who knows an Alzheimer's caregiver steps in to do their part. Taking "shifts," running errands, watching their loved one for an afternoon, or simply writing them positive notes of encouragement are all little ways that we can help Alzheimer's caregivers live better, healthier lives. It is important that society recognizes the stress these individuals are under and the potential dangerous health issues that they face, so together we can not only help Alzheimer's patients live better lives but so we can help their caregivers live betters lives as well.