Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive mental disorder that causes the degeneration of brain cells. It consequently destroys a person’s thinking skills and ability to perform simple tasks, hindering them from functioning independently.
In most cases, symptoms for Alzheimer’s start appearing after a person crosses 60 years of age. There is also an early-onset type that affects people as young as 30 to 35, but it is scarce in comparison. The illness is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who, in 1906 started studying changes in the brain tissue of an older woman who died due to an unknown mental illness.
How Does Alzheimer’s Disease Affect Seniors?
Many estimates suggest that Alzheimer’s is the third leading cause of death in the United States, right behind heart disease and cancer. Among other things, it is the most common cause of dementia among the elderly. Here are just a few ways in which it can affect seniors:
It may cause them to:
- Repeat statements
- Forget certain conversations
- Regularly misplace possessions
- Get lost very often
- Forget the names of family and friends
- Be unable to express themselves
2. Thinking and Decision-Making
It may affect their ability to concentrate, thus making it difficult to perform daily tasks like cooking, playing games, paying bills, etc. They may also be unable to make reasonable decisions.
It can also affect their behavior and mood, causing issues like:
- Mood swings
Being A Caregiver To A Parent With Alzheimer’s
Most sufferers of Alzheimer’s need someone to be at their call and beckoning 24 hours a day. The responsibility usually falls upon an immediate family member. Taking care of a parent with the disease can be challenging. But at the end of the day, it is a rewarding experience.
By helping them out, you are bringing renewed hope into their lives and helping them through a difficult time. You are doing exactly what they did for you when you were a toddler.
The Caregiving Challenges
Despite being a gratifying experience, caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s is by no means an easy task. It can often leave you overwhelmed with challenges that you never thought you’d face in life. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
1. Time – Most of your caregiving time has to be devoted to meeting your parent’s unique needs. You have to sacrifice on the ‘time’ you would otherwise give to work, hobbies, and socializing under normal circumstances.
2. Finances – Treatment costs for an Alzheimer’s patient can be very high. Moreover, in many cases, caregivers are unemployed due to lack of time and have to rely solely on savings. Financial strain is, therefore, inevitable.
3. Sleep – An Alzheimer’s patient’s sleep cycle can be very unnatural, which is why every caregiver will have to sacrifice on relaxation time.
4. Exhaustion – Caregivers are always busy doing one thing or another for the patient, leading to significant physical stress. This can often cause severe exhaustion and fatigue.
5. Depression – If the challenges are not addressed timely, it could lead to caregiver burnout and eventually, depression.
Tips To Improve Caregiving For A Parent With Alzheimer’s
There is always room for improvement as far as caregiving for Alzheimer’s patients is concerned. Here are some things that you can do to provide better care for your parent:
1. Make a schedule – Haphazardly doing daily tasks will only increase frustration and make you more miserable than ever. Following a regular schedule will make everything more organized and easier to handle.
2. Do your research – Be sure to do the necessary research on how you’re supposed to respond to or handle certain situations because your intuition may not always be right.
3. Ask for help – There is no harm in asking for a family member or friend to help you out at times. And people who relate could also provide you with emotional support.
It is vital to take care of yourself as well while caring for your parent. The most effective way of doing that is by expressing your feelings – talk to people who can relate to what you’re going through. Letting all of the frustration build up inside you is the worst thing you could do, and who better to rant to than those in a similar situation.
It is a good idea to try ExtendaTouch’s Alzheimer’s helpline by online chat to reach out to people who are caring for or have cared for family members with the disease. There are many individuals in the online support community who are eager to provide you with emotional support, advice, and helpful information to cope with the caregiving challenges.