Dr. Ruth authors book on help for Alzheimer’s caregivers

The best present you can give to Alzheimer’s caregivers this holiday season is time to take care of their own health, says Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the well-known sex therapist and author of the new book “Dr. Ruth’s Guide for the Alzheimer’s Caregiver: How to Care for Your Loved One with Getting Overwhelmed … and without Doing It All Yourself”
“While the gifts we offer each other for the holidays tend to be things,” says Westheimer, “for those who are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, the best present would be an offer to take on the burden of caregiving for them for a few hours so that they would be able to visit a doctor or dentist and take care of their own health needs. Put the offer in writing and if necessary make the proper appointments for them so that you can coordinate both your schedules.”
Studies show that Alzheimer’s caregivers suffer high levels of stress, leading to health conditions including high blood pressure, lower immunity, slow wound healing and greater incidence of cardiovascular disease. These problems are often made worse because many caregivers don’t take the time to take proper care of their own health, sometimes not seeking medical attention until they need to go to the emergency room.
“Caregivers will take the person they’re caring for to the doctor but won’t go themselves,” says Westheimer. “They literally put themselves on their line for their loved ones, because by ignoring symptoms they end up with serious illnesses. A gift of time to visit the doctor can literally save a caregiver’s life.”
In her new book, Dr. Ruth gives numerous tips on how Alzheimer’s caregivers can get the help they need, including scheduling time for relief caregivers and creating a “help registry” of specific needs and tasks for friends and family to help with.
Millions of Americans take care of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease, and nearly all of them feel overwhelmed by the crushing burden of caring for a dependent adult while trying to maintain their own physical and mental health. Sixty percent of caregivers report high levels of stress, and 30 percent of caregivers report feeling depressed. Nearly all Alzheimer’s caregivers report high levels of isolation and feelings that their family and friends have abandoned them.
Available from bookstores, online booksellers and Quill Driver Books (1-800-345-4447,