Alzheimer’s Disease is one of the most insidious and vile diseases out there. It destroys the happiness, history, mind, body and dignity of a person once full of life and purpose.
Who suffers from an Alzheimer’s diagnosis?
Everyone suffers. Although Alzheimer’s takes a tremendous toll on the person with the disease, it can take an even larger toll on the family, loved ones and caregivers involved.
As the disease progresses, people suffering from Alzheimer’s are not always aware of their illness or the dismal prognosis. The family members and friends are the ones having to witness the decline of someone they love. They often feel helpless, frustrated, impatient, emotionally and physically exhausted, even angry and resentful. Along with these feelings and emotions, they often feel a terrible sense of guilt.
Adult children of Alzheimer’s patients
Many adult children find themselves having to care for an elderly parent suffering from Alzheimer’s. These same adult children may be approaching senior citizen status themselves and may not be up to the task.
Some adult children find themselves caught in the “sandwich generation”, still raising their own children while caring for aging, ill parents at the same time. They may feel resentment at this intrusion into their lives and also feel guilty for having such feelings.
Alzheimer’s patients can be difficult
Alzheimer’s patients can be very difficult to care for, especially as the disease progresses. They often become extremely confused, paranoid, agitated, hostile, violent, lose control of their bodily functions, pose a danger to themselves and others, regress to childlike behavior and very often forget the names and faces of their family and friends. In a sense, the Alzheimer’s patient has already “passed on.” The body is there but the loved one isn’t. This sad fact is perhaps the most difficult one for family members to understand and accept.
What to do when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s
1) Gather as much information about the disease as you can – the early signs, treatment options and what to expect as the disease progresses.
2) Set up a meeting with family members to discuss the situation. Major decisions will need to be made regarding both short-term care and long-term care.
3) Appoint a power-of-attorney who will be responsible for making financial, medical and end-of-life decisions. More than one person can act as power-of-attorney and is often recommended when siblings are involved. It is critical to keep the communication open among family members. If discussions become heated and family members can’t agree, which often happens, consulting with an elder attorney may be necessary.
4) Investigate the resources available for both Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers, such as adult day care, relief for caregivers, home health aides and assisted living/nursing facilities. If the person with Alzheimer’s is living with family members, this is especially important. Alzheimer’s caregivers suffer an extremely high amount of stress, both emotionally and physically and need a lot of support and relief.
5) If a loved one with Alzheimer’s is in a nursing facility, it is important to act as advocate for that loved one, to ensure that he or she is safe and adequately cared for, especially if the person is no longer able to communicate. As Alzheimer’s patients can be very difficult to manage, they are often subject to elder abuse and neglect. Sadly, although this can happen in a nursing facility, most elder abuse occurs at home. Don’t let your loved one become a tragic statistic.
If you have a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Join a support group. Hear what others in similar situations have to say. Don’t try to go it alone.
I am a freelance writer and have written for several online sites over the years. In addition to writing on a wide range of topics from serious to humorous, I was also the Haiku Site Specialist for Helium.com, which site is no longer in existence.
I am retired from my position as Program Manager in the School of Business Career Center at a state university. In that position I counseled undergrad business students in resumé writing, conducting a job search and also the interviewing process. I was also responsible for the center’s quarterly newsletters and informational publications.
I have many hobbies in addition to writing. I have a small antiques business and have been selling my wares in a local antiques shop for over sixteen years. I also enjoy crafts, especially knitting, and have sold hundreds of mittens and hats in local shops as well.
I studied classical piano for ten years, starting at the age of six. Although I never pursued a career in music, I do enjoy tickling the ivories every now and then.
In addition to my own writing, my cat Mildred is also a writer and is fairly well known online. You may find some of her writings here as I’m willing to share my site with her if she feels the need to write.
Both Mildred and I are looking forward to making new friends at Writedge and hopefully running into some old friends as well.