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Living with Alzheimer’s

by Joe Lawrence November 3rd, 2017 | Aging Well
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HandsNovember is Alzheimer’s Awareness month and this is a disease that is not easy for anyone involved. The caregiver and the patient all have many hurdles to overcome while battling the disease. However, there are beneficial things that can be done to ease the process.

One of the first things is to realize the patient is not the disease. Once the label of Alzheimer’s is slapped to the person, others tend to write them off. Just because there are some early signs setting in does not mean the person is complete goner. In fact, many patients are forming support groups and gaining momentum in the educational process to help others in dealing with them and the disease. Patients tend to share the same frustrations in the beginning knowing they are losing memories, but still being with it in many ways. Those around them are tuning them out and not including them in the dinner conversations like they used to or giving them the ability to make decisions.

It is frustrating and heart breaking to see a loved one losing their memories and abilities. Having your spouse, sister, or grandma call you by the wrong name or forgetting how to do something once menial, like set the table, is painful to witness. However, what is worse is that often times those suffering from the disease realize there is something not right and they take on some severe emotional distress.

Caregivers are often family members and know those suffering better than anyone else. Watching the disease progress over years is not easy. Explaining the same thing over and over again really tries the patience. However, experts recommend doing whatever it takes to maintain the patience. Instead of keying in on the questions, look for the emotion being portrayed. Feed off of the emotion and deal with that as opposed to the actual words that are spoken.

Those providing care also need to find ways to get in their “me-time.” The emotions of watching a loved one suffer and the arguments from their frustrations of not being as capable as they once were is mentally and even physically draining. Get away for an hour or so to clear your thoughts.

There are also things that can be done to help both patient and caregiver. The major thing being trumpeted by the experts is to set a daily routine. Doing the same things daily in the same order is a huge asset to caring for those with Alzheimer’s. First of all, the routine helps to make things easier to plan. It also helps the patient be able to do more for themselves longer. If the routine is set early enough, it could empower the patient for quite some time.

One other thing that seems to be helpful is to find a support group that caters to the patient and the caregiver. They are slowly popping up and can be beneficial to understanding those suffering better and gaining insight into other caregivers’ struggles.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.