New Study Highlights the Effects of Alzheimer’s on Family Life
Posted July 4, 2017

A new study highlights the effects of Alzheimer’s on family life, further defining the disease and outlining new guidelines for dementia care in the Lincoln Park area.

Researchers continuously study the impact and subtleties of aging, including Alzheimer’s disease. Approximately one-in-ten people have Alzheimer’s, which equates to around five-and-a-half million people living with this disease in the US alone. The symptoms and evolution of Alzheimer’s can be a painful one, warranting the treatment of seasoned professionals in the field of dementia. It helps that loved ones and caregivers in the greater Chicago area can reach out online for reviews, rankings, and recommendations when it comes to dementia care.

A new study highlights the effects of Alzheimer’s on Family life: 

It is not surprising that an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can put a strain on the family unit; around 40% of dementia caregivers report feeling undervalued and under-appreciated. While 70% of the population worry about becoming a burden on their families in old age, only around 24% of people have made solid financial plans in the event of dementia, or other progressive illness later in life. The stress of caring for someone with dementia can tear a family apart.
From diagnosis to dementia care, Alzheimer’s affects loved ones and the entire family unit in many ways:

Family roles

When your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, roles within the family change. Those afflicted may feel excluded from plans or conversations, and they may experience a loss of independence. Many individuals that require dementia care may worry about being a burden on their family as they become more dependent on others. These role changes can lead to withdrawal, confusion, isolation, and resentment- all which can erode the family unit if not addressed through open communication channels.

Emotions

There are waxing and waning emotions surrounding the deterioration of Alzheimer’s disease, both with the patient and the caregivers. Family caregivers may feel guilt, anger and a sense of loss and mourning when coming to terms with their loved one’s diagnosis, and while providing day-to-day dementia care while watching the illness progress:

  • Guilt is common among families of those with Alzheimer’s. Guilt related to impatience, not providing better care, or for transitioning loved ones to residential care facilities are some examples. Spouses may feel a sense of guilt for not holding up past commitments to provide care through ‘sickness and health.’
  • Anger often comes from frustration and it is easy to become frustrated when providing dementia care. Caregivers may feel angry with others for not helping out more, angry with resources for not stepping up to the plate, angry with their loved one for problematic behaviors, and simply angry that they are being put in the position of caregiver. Those with Alzheimer’s may become frustrated by the confusion and symptoms of the disease, which may manifest in angry outbursts.
  • Grief is a natural reaction to loss. With dementia, you lose the person that you once knew as the disease progresses. Those with Alzheimer’s and their partners may grieve a future that is now unlikely.

Responsibilities

Nearly 15-million Americans provide unpaid dementia care to someone they love, which shifts responsibilities in many family units. While caregiving is demanding work that requires attention to self-care, anger and resentment can fester leaving many in the family feeling disenfranchised and estranged. It is not always easy for siblings to provide dementia care for each other, or for parents to accept assistance from their children.

Living situations

There is no universal solution to determining the best living situation for a loved one with dementia. The different stages of the disease and variances in progression may point to the most suitable care options for an individual. Some individuals may be able to live at home longer due to a broad network of support; others may merit residential treatment facilities for safety and security. Whatever the disease brings, be sure to discuss options with family and caregivers. Have conversations about this before the disease has time to rob your loved one of the ability to make informed decisions. This open communication is the kindest thing that anyone can do now, for the loved ones they leave behind later.

Dementia care in the Lincoln Park Area:

While the terms ‘dementia’ and ‘Alzheimer’s’ are often used interchangeably, dementia is defined as an individual that is not able to function on their own due to a lasting mental impairment that affects attention, memory, and ability to reason. Thankfully, there is help available for families living with Alzheimer’s disease. Doctors, therapists, clinicians, case managers, nurses, and caregivers can provide the support network needed to survive the toll of dementia care.
Don’t try to take on Alzheimer’s on your own; reach out and review the online information provided by Senior Living Experts to find professionals in your area that can help. The progression of Alzheimer’s disease has a significant impact on caregivers, loved ones, and families. Garner support from professionals and practitioners in your area.

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