To be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is difficult for patients, but it may be even more difficult for loved ones who become caregivers.
Patients face the uncertainty and fear of the gradual loss of abilities once taken for granted. However, caregivers face the difficult task of reconciling their memories of what loved ones were like in the past with the realities of the new people they have become.
Acceptance of the fact that Alzheimer’s irrevocably changes people is a key to caregivers being able to cope with new responsibilities.
In early stages of Alzheimer’s, patients experience a contraction of their environments as they gradually lose the ability to take care of themselves outside their homes and eventually even within their homes.
They lose confidence and become more vulnerable.
As the dementia progresses, this may be accompanied by changes in mood, including manifestations of anger towards caregivers.
Stuart, whose wife Carol is in the early stages of Familial Alzheimer’s Disease, has noticed that the biggest change in his home is his new role as caregiver. Caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients may sometimes find their roles reversed as they tend to the needs of their loved ones. Stuart, like many other caregivers, is now responsible for Carol’s well-being as well as his own, and must ensure that she has eaten, is taking her medication, and that the household chores are taken care of. This profound change in Stuart’s lifestyle when was difficult at first, but he has accepted his new role. Acceptance of the situation is one of the main keys to the well-being of patients and caregivers alike. As the disease progresses, it will be the patient who comes first, as Stuart so aptly points out in the video below.