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Understanding and Recognizing the Special Needs of Families and Caregivers

Alzheimer's Caregivers BlogAlzheimer’s disease can create a significant disruption in a family.  Family members’ roles and responsibilities change, and each of you may handle these major adjustments differently.  Not surprisingly, conflicts may arise.

Some members of your family will be eager to understand the patient’s disease, a some may deny the problem.  The patient’s physician will likely be your initial primary source of information.  However, not everyone is comfortable asking a physician questions, even when they want more information.

Keep in mind the following suggestions when talking about the disease with the patient’s doctor and other medical professionals.  Ask the physician to:

  • Use simple everyday languate and avoid medical jargon.
  • Present the information in small parts.
  • Use examples and analogies.
  • Provide take-home reading or audio-visual material.
  • List other possible sources of information.

The patient, you and other family members should:

  • Repeat what the doctor says to ensure that you understand the information.
  • Take notes if that helps you retain the information
  • Ask questions when you do not understand what was said.
  • Contact the doctor later with follow-up questions
  • Don’t expect to absorb all of the information at once

As a caregiver of an Alzheimer’s disease patient you may experience a range of natural emotions in response to the disease.  These feelings, which may include frustration, anger, fear, and sadness, as wll as concerns about your own memory lapses, can be managed by talking with a physican, a geriatric care manager and/or a counselor.

Beyond natural reactions to the disease, you and your family may experience high levels of stress. In fact, up to 50% of primary caregivers experience significant psychological distress, including depression.

Caregiver stress can present series health and psychological problems. You and your family should be aware of, and watch for, symptoms such as:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Social withdrawal
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Exhaustion
  • Sleeplessness
  • Irritability
  • Lack of concentration
  • Health problems

To learn more, call us anytime at  

561-588-4545 

Caregiver Crisis Line 855-476-7600 

and remember, you are not alone.