18 Aug Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosis: The Effect on Families
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects more than just the person who was diagnosed. Families are often significantly affected by the disease as well. Those who have AD lean heavily on family members, especially as the disease progresses, because they are often unable to perform daily tasks without assistance. This dependence places a heavy burden on family members in a number of ways.
Watching someone revert back to an almost child-like state is difficult, especially if that person previously provided care to the family member (like parents or grandparents). However, one of the most difficult emotional issues is that your family member may begin to forget family members’ and friends’ faces. Daughters and sons may be mistaken for siblings, and grandchildren may be forgotten entirely.
AD patients often live with family members, and that will likely add costs to the household. However, medical treatments and prescription medications are probably the most significant cost involved in caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. Hiring a caretaker or paying for home services when family members cannot care for their loved one is expensive as well. Insurance may help, but it will likely not cover all of the costs.
The average caregiver spends anywhere from 14 to 43 hours per week caring for their loved one. This time commitment severely alters how the family member can live their life. Employment may not be an option, and hobbies and interests may disappear altogether.
When these burdens combine, it can have an extremely detrimental effect on the family. Caring for someone on a daily basis causes stress, anxiety, and can result in depression. Family members may put their own needs at a dead last when caring for their family members, which can have serious consequences.
Be sure to get help when you need it. The Palm Beach Neurological Center offers a support group and a helpful eNewsletter that encourages coping mechanisms. Your family does not have to suffer in silence.
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Beinart, N. Caregiver Burden and Psychoeducational Interventions in Alzheimer’s Disease: A Review. Dement. Geriatr. Cogn. Dis. Extra. 2012; Jan.-Dec.:2(1): 638-648. doi. 10.1159/000345777.
Siemens, I. Communicating with families of dementia patients: Practical guide for relieving caregiver stress. Canadian Family Physician. 2011; July:57(7): 801-802.