Alzheimer’s Disease and its effects on family and loved ones


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.







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    • Linda Cann Pearson
  1. Renee Rotto

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