Though it's your loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, you will probably find that the whole family will be deeply affected.
If the patient is your parent, you will be facing a role reversal in caring for them. If you have siblings, you will all have to work together to shoulder the responsibility and make important decisions for your parent's care.
If the patient is a spouse, you will become responsible for someone who has previously been a partner. As you age, you will also be managing your own care as well as your spouse's.
If the patient is your in-law, you may find that your spouse must dedicate more time to caring for their parent, which can infringe upon the time they spend with you and your family. You may also find the patient living with you, though you may not have been prepared for the situation.
If the patient is a grandparent, children may be confused and upset by their behavior. They may also be affected by the toll the patient's care is taking on their parents.
The family may need to reorganize and create a care plan that will support all its members while coping with feelings of sadness, loss and the fear of change. Plans that have been made and looked forward to may need to be changed or given up. New roles and skills may need to be developed.
The symptoms of Alzheimer's can put a strain on relationships. Tensions can develop about who will provide care, and what kind of care to provide. Therefore, family members can greatly benefit from information, counseling and support.
As a caregiving family member or friend, you need to prepare as best you can, accept support when it is offered, give yourself permission to make mistakes and honor your life and that of the person with Alzheimer's disease.
From The Comfort of Home™ for Alzheimer's Disease: A Guide for Caregivers,
CareTrust Publications © 2008.