Elderly Care: What Happens When a Senior Family Member has Alzheimer’s?

Elderly suffering from alzheimerAlzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in America, affecting about 5.7 million seniors. This number may rise up to 14 million by 2050. Seniors are more susceptible to this degenerative brain disorder, regardless of sex and race.

If your senior loved one has developed Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia, the disease won’t only leave a negative impact on the patient’s life. Your family can also feel the effects of such a disease.

Understanding the Struggles of Alzheimer’s Patients

Alzheimer’s is the most common dementia symptom. It’s an irreversible brain disorder that takes away a person’s memory and thinking skills. As the illness progresses, people with Alzheimer’s may also lose their ability to perform daily tasks.

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s usually occur in the mid-60s. One of its first signs is memory loss, but it can vary from person to person. People who experience memory problems are those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in which cognitive functions decline earlier than normal aging. MCI can also affect someone’s language, judgment, and thinking ability.

Accepting the Caring Responsibilities

Living with Alzheimer’s is extremely challenging for seniors. That’s why providing proper care is essential to improve a patient’s quality of life. In the US, 83 percent of care given to seniors is from family members, friends, or other unpaid caregivers. Almost half of the caregivers provide care to seniors living with Alzheimer’s.

In some cases, family members experience disputes regarding the guardianship of a senior loved one who has Alzheimer’s. If you’re in this situation, hiring elder arbitration and mediation services may help you settle any issues before they intensify.

Improving the Quality of Life of Seniors

Son comforting his fatherSeniors with Alzheimer’s can experience different challenges, depending on the severity of their condition. The disease can be classified into three stages, including:

Mild Alzheimer’s disease

In this stage, people may experience difficulties in direction, tend to repeat questions, and take longer to complete daily tasks. Your loved one is more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s during this stage.

Moderate Alzheimer’s disease

If your loved one has a moderate Alzheimer’s, the patient may have trouble recognizing family and friends. The disease starts to damage the areas of the brain that are responsible for language, reasoning, sensory, and conscious thought.

Severe Alzheimer’s disease

This is where brain tissue shrinks significantly. Patient at this stage have lost their ability to communicate and become dependent on others.

There is no cure, but there are treatments to help Alzheimer’s patients manage symptoms and ease their daily life. For example, seniors can take galantamine, donepezil, and rivastigmine to improve their memory.

Adequate knowledge about Alzheimer’s also helps caregivers, from family member to professionals, provide care to your senior loved one. Caregivers can also undergo training and get access to support to improve their skills.

The causes of Alzheimer’s are still unclear to researchers. The medical community continues to conduct studies to further understand the disease and find a cure. In the meantime, as a family member, you may help your senior loved one live better despite the challenges of the disease.