Wednesday Workshop – Why Alzheimer’s is Called the Family Disease
Hello and welcome to Wednesday Workshop. Alzheimer’s disease can run its course from 2 to 20 years and turn a fully functioning adult or senior citizen into a helpless individual. In many ways, the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on the family can be as devastating as its effects on the patient. “Alzheimer’s disease is often called a family disease, because the chronic stress of watching a loved one slowly decline affects everyone,” reports The Family Caregiver Alliance.
The Early Stages
Receiving the diagnosis is traumatic for the entire family. The early effects of Alzheimer’s on the family consist of processing the diagnosis, learning about the disease and preparing for the future.
Individuals with Alzheimer’s may begin to say things and act in ways that are offensive and hurtful towards others. A soft spoken woman may become violent. A timid man may become reckless. In this stage, family members are learning to differentiate between the disease and their loved one.
The Middle Stages
As the disease progresses, and the patient loses touch with reality, the strain on family members, especially those providing care, becomes greater. It’s not uncommon for caregivers to suffer from grief and loss as the person they are caring for changes. During this stage, safety also becomes a critical issue. Families should consider day care or in-home care options to help with daily tasks.
The Late Stages
If a family chooses to keep the patient at home for the duration of his life, the later stages of the disease require extensive care. Patients must be fed, moved, cleaned and diapered, and these tasks require families to be constantly present and available. Performing many of these tasks can be physically and emotionally draining. As a result, many families end up in conflict about how their loved one should receive care.
Receiving appropriate emotional support through counseling, a support group or other family members is extremely important. Support groups are an excellent resource to help families connect with other individuals being impacted by the disease and to avoid the isolation that often comes from caregiving.
To speak with us here at the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center about joining a caregiver support group, feel free to call us at (877) 760-9199. Thanks for watching today’s Wednesday Workshop and we’ll see you again next week!