November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Month, where various organizations across the nation shine the spotlight on the disease, its symptoms and the importance of family caregivers. The focus of the campaign is to educate people about it and help families and communities come together to advocate for awareness. It’s also designed to help family caregivers of seniors with Alzheimer’s disease find helpful resources as they take on more responsibilities.
What are the Causes and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease?
Affecting more than 5 million Americans, Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain. It damages the brain cells, affecting cognitive ability, memory, and behavior. It is the most common brain disease that causes dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is in the top five leading causes of death for seniors age 65 and older. Symptoms include mental confusion, irritability, trouble with self-care, paranoia and personality changes. The cause of Alzheimer’s disease is tied to age-related changes to the body and brain.
The Decline of Self-Care with Alzheimer’s Disease
Those with Alzheimer’s disease are limited in their ability to care for themselves. Because of their cognitive decline, elderly adults with the disease don’t have the ability to keep daily timelines straight or remember when tasks were last completed. This can affect everything from personal grooming and hygiene to meals and medication. Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease also tend to wander away if they are not supervised. All this means that family caregivers often step in and take over their aging loved one’s daily life.
The Stress of Caregiving for Those with Alzheimer’s Disease
Millions of family members care for elderly relatives that have physical challenges that prevent them from being completely independent. It is both rewarding and stressful, with numerous responsibilities for finances, health, home management, social and emotional well-being on the line. The emotional toll of caring for a relative with Alzheimer’s disease is immense, leading to frequent mental health issues in caregivers.
Family members who are caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia face all kinds of challenges that greatly interferes with the number of hours per week they have to themselves for jobs, kids, spouses, and free time. They are more likely to develop anxiety and depression, eating disorders, alcohol or drug abuse issues and a decline in their own health due to chronic stress.
Where Family Caregivers Can Find Respite
Hiring senior care providers can make a big difference in the stress levels that family caregivers face when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. Senior care providers that are specially trained to assist seniors with Alzheimer’s disease can provide the care, supervision, and compassion that is needed so family caregivers can take some time away.
It can be very difficult to justify leaving an affected senior relative, and many family caregivers simply don’t do it, which adds to their stress. With a senior care provider, weary family caregivers can take care of their own health and wellness, thereby making them better caretakers for their aging relatives.