Taking care of a family member with Alzheimer’s disease and/or a related dementia can be as exhausting as it is meaningful. Both physically and emotionally, caregiving takes a toll that we can all appreciate. Occasional breaks – whether for a few hours, a day, or a week or more – are important in order to recharge. Family caregivers need rest and support in order to continue to provide the best possible care to loved ones.
There are many supports available for family caregivers:
It is well known that individuals with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease experience disrupted sleep-wake cycles, frequently sleeping during the day and wakeful at night. However, there is new evidence that poor sleep may actually contribute to the onset, and be an early symptom of, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
My father is in the moderate severe stage of Alzheimer’s disease. I am fortunate that, at least for now, he is able to remain at home where he is well cared for by my mother. But despite the fact that my Mom has ample respite during the week, I am well aware that, at times, caregiving can be overwhelming and frustrating.
This blog is part of a year-long series aimed at addressing some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from family and adult children on the topics most concerning them regarding their aging parents or loved one. In 2012 Hebrew SeniorLife published the eBook "You & Your Aging Parent: A Family Approach to Lifelong Health, Wellness & Care," a compilation of answers from HSL geriatric experts in response to the many of the most frequently asked questions. We're reposting some of the most popular Q&A posts from our original eBook which was downloaded over 2,000 times.
There is a growing interest in cognitive training as a means to help maintain cognition in healthy adults, and perhaps slow the progression of dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease in those at risk. Given that a cure for Alzheimer’s appears years away, and with the record number of adults reaching age 65 each day, there is no surprise that that the growth of the cognitive training industry over the last decade is in the billions of dollars.
As dementia progresses, brain cells are damaged, causing cognitive symptoms to worsen. While current medications cannot stop disease progression, they may help lessen or stabilize symptoms for a time by boosting certain chemicals involved in carrying messages among the brain's nerve cells. However, these drugs have unwanted side effects, or have little effect in some individuals.
Adults with dementia often feel compelled to walk about. This behavior has routinely been called “wandering” by clinicians, researchers and informal caregivers. About 60 percent of adults with dementia will experience wandering, which most commonly occurs in the middle or later stages of dementia. Wandering can be prompted by a desire to look for something or someone, such as a family member or friend, or by a need to fulfill a former obligation such as going to work.
Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia, is a chronic brain disease characterized by the progressive deterioration of memory, language, visual perception and activities of daily living.
If you have a loved one with memory problems, it’s important to see a clinician who has expertise in Alzheimer’s to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. That may be the patient’s primary care physician, or the PCP may refer you to a specialist. Neurologists and geriatricians are two types of specialists who diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s disease.
It seems that there has been an explosion of books, websites, and blogs related to Alzheimer’s disease. While getting as much information out there as possible seems a good idea, the question remains, what is worth reading? And how do you know if the information is legitimate. As always, consider the source. In general, government-sponsored websites end in “.gov” and nationally recognized organizations that end in “.org” are often your best bets for timely, accurate information. As for blogs, it is important to take any advice with a grain of salt, so to speak.