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HomeHealthHow Does Alzheimer's Affect Family And Friends

How Does Alzheimer’s Affect Family And Friends

Involving Family And Friends In Activities In Care Homes

Join Dementia Friends at your school – Alzheimer’s Society

Many activity organisers in care homes have discovered the benefits of involving carers in activities in the home, whether it is escorting residents on a trip out or helping to serve food and drinks at a special event. Involving families and friends may actually make your job easier and create more of a community spirit in your service.

Involving relatives and friends does need some forethought and planning. For example, are you asking the carer to help with looking after their own relative or friend for a specific activity or could they be a more general volunteer or helper?

Many family members and friends are keen to help where they can, especially when they see the benefits of activities for their own relative or friend. However, you need to check whether they feel they have the time and commitment to get involved and how often they might be able to offer this.

Some visitors might not be able to give their time but could have other things to offer, for example collections of music or DVDs to lend, fabrics, wool or hats for activity groups or contacts with community groups such a local church or golf club.

As with all volunteering, you are more likely to keep families and friends involved if you remember the following:

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She knew the names of her children but didnt remember when she moved to the memory care unit.

I worked for Travelers Insurance, she said. And I used to show Siberian huskies.

She knows she was born Oct. 22, 1937, but didn’t say how old she was.

Ill let you figure that out, she said, smiling.

Asked about her memory, she said, I must forget things but I dont worry about it.

Asked where she lives, she replied, I think I live on this side . I think.

I was married over 50 years. Hes passed away, she said of her husband. We had a wonderful marriage. We were married for 50 years. We have three children. I have a daughter thats a judgeMy son was hit by a car when he was young but hes OK now. He lives in a condominium in St. Paul, she said again. 

Asked if she had any memory problems, she replied Memory loss? Not that I know of.

Asked what she thought of her life, she replied smiling, I dont have any big complaints.

Asked about how her puzzle was coming along, Coxon replied that she couldnt remember. But its not important.

Maintaining relationships

Some of the memory-care residents get regular visits from family and friends. Others rarely see anyone come.

It is important that people diagnosed with dementia still maintain relationships with their friends, said Debbie Selsavage, founder of Coping with Dementia LLC.

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How To Cope With Changes In Sexuality

The well spouse/partner or the person with Alzheimers disease may lose interest in having sex. This change can make you feel lonely or frustrated. You may feel that:

  • Its not okay to have sex with someone who has Alzheimers.
  • The person with Alzheimers seems like a stranger.
  • The person with Alzheimers seems to forget that the spouse/partner is there or how to make love.

A person with Alzheimers disease may have side effects from medications that affect his or her sexual interest. He or she may also have memory loss, changes in the brain, or depression that affect his or her interest in sex.

Here are some tips for coping with changes in sexuality:

  • Explore new ways of spending time together.
  • Focus on other ways to show affection, such as snuggling or holding hands.
  • Try other nonsexual forms of touching, such as massage, hugging, and dancing.
  • Consider other ways to meet your sexual needs. Some caregivers report that they masturbate.

Activities That Add To The Stress

Impact of Alzheimer

A woman looking after her husband with dementia finds that he has taken to dismantling cameras or various pieces of equipment that he can find. This is stressful for her as the equipment is expensive and often cant be repaired. However, the man seems to be having a very happy and purposeful time looking at all the parts, sorting and rearranging them.

If you were supporting this family, it would be important to help the wife recognise the benefits of this activity, but also to try to find creative solutions to the problem of expensive equipment being ruined. Charity shops and internet sites might offer sources for cheap cameras that can be dismantled.

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Helping Family And Friends Understand Alzheimer’s Disease

When you learn that someone has Alzheimers disease, you may wonder when and how to tell your family and friends. You may be worried about how others will react to or treat the person. Realize that people often sense when something has changed. By sharing what is happening, family and friends can help support you and the person with Alzheimers disease.

Theres no single right way to tell others about Alzheimers disease. When the time seems right, be honest with family, friends, and others. Use this as a chance to educate them about Alzheimers. You can:

  • Share articles, websites, and other information about the disease.
  • Tell them what they can do to help, such as calling the person with Alzheimer’s disease, providing meals, or helping with home repairs or safety modifications.

When a family member has Alzheimers disease, it affects everyone in the family, including children and grandchildren. Its important to talk to them about what is happening. For tips on helping children cope when a loved one has the disease, see Helping Kids Understand Alzheimers Disease.

Make Time For Reflection

At each new stage of dementia, you have to alter your expectations about what your loved one is capable of. By accepting each new reality and taking time to reflect on these changes, you can better cope with the emotional loss and find greater satisfaction in your caregiving role.

Keep a daily journal to record and reflect on your experiences. By writing down your thoughts, you can mourn losses, celebrate successes, and challenge negative thought patterns that impact your mood and outlook.

Count your blessings. It may sound counterintuitive in the midst of such challenges, but keeping a daily gratitude list can help chase away the blues. It can also help you focus on what your loved one is still capable of, rather than the abilities theyve lost.

Value what is possible. In the middle stages of dementia, your loved one still has many abilities. Structure activities to invite their participation on whatever level is possible. By valuing what your loved one is able to give, you can find pleasure and satisfaction on even the toughest days.

Improve your emotional awareness. Remaining engaged, focused, and calm in the midst of such tremendous responsibility can challenge even the most capable caregivers. By developing your emotional awareness skills, however, you can relieve stress, experience positive emotions, and bring new peace and clarity to your caretaking role.

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Changes In Family Relationships

The effects of Alzheimers disease arent only felt by the immediate family members of an individual, but by extended family and close friends as well. Family members who dont see the loved one regularly might not understand how seriously the disease has impacted them. Some family members may shy away from the loved one and their caregiver because they are unsure of what to say or how to act.

According to the Alzheimers Association, the best thing a caregiver can do to involve their family in their loved ones life is to take the initiative to talk to them, teaching them how the disease has changed their lives, sharing updates on their loved ones health and asking for help when its needed.

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Relationships After A Dementia Diagnosis – Bob And Jo’s Story

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The Alzheimers And Dementia Care Journey

Caring for someone with Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia can be a long, stressful, and intensely emotional journey. But youre not alone. In the United States, there are more than 16 million people caring for someone with dementia, and many millions more around the world. As there is currently no cure for Alzheimers or dementia, it is often your caregiving and support that makes the biggest difference to your loved ones quality of life. That is a remarkable gift.

However, caregiving can also become all-consuming. As your loved ones cognitive, physical, and functional abilities gradually diminish over time, its easy to become overwhelmed, disheartened, and neglect your own health and well-being. The burden of caregiving can put you at increased risk for significant health problems and many dementia caregivers experience depression, high levels of stress, or even burnout. And nearly all Alzheimers or dementia caregivers at some time experience sadness, anxiety, loneliness, and exhaustion. Seeking help and support along the way is not a luxury; its a necessity.

Just as each individual with Alzheimers disease or dementia progresses differently, so too can the caregiving experience vary widely from person to person. However, there are strategies that can aid you as a caregiver and help make your caregiving journey as rewarding as it is challenging.

Helping A Person With Dementia

If you’re a carer or friend of a person with a dementia, there are different ways to support them in their everyday life.

You can help by:

  • remembering they are still the person and friend you may have known for a long time
  • including them in group conversations
  • asking them their opinion and not assuming you know what they want
  • offering your support, they may not feel confident enough to approach you and may need your help
  • being sensitive, for example, understanding and supporting their approach to living with the condition
  • remembering they can still do the same things as you with a little help

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What Is Alzheimers Disease

Alzheimers disease is the most common form of a group of brain diseases called dementias. Alzheimers disease accounts for 60% to 80% of dementia cases. Other forms of dementia include vascular dementia, mixed dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, and frontotemporal dementia.

Alzheimers disease, like all dementias, gets worse over time and there is no known cure. Nearly 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimers disease. Alzheimers disease destroys brain cells causing problems with memory, thinking, and behavior that can be severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies, and social life. Eventually, it can affect ones ability to carry out routine daily activities. Today, it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It is the fifth leading cause of death for those aged 65 years and older.

For more information, see www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/facts-figuresexternal icon.

Dementia Affects The Whole Family

Phases of Dementia

Carrie Steckl earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with a Minor in Gerontology from Indiana University Bloomington in 2001.She has spent over…Read More

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to a group of high school seniors about dementia. These were no ordinary students they were all members of an advanced placement psychology class taught by one of my favorite teachers when I was in high school. I knew they were already well-versed in basic psychology and brain anatomy, but I wasnt sure how much they had discussed dementia, either in class or at home.

What in the world would teenagers want to know about dementia? And perhaps most importantly, why should they care? Granted, I knew darn well that they should care about dementia the challenge was making this truth relevant and meaningful to them.

Its easy to see why society as a whole should care about dementia. According to the Alzheimers Associations 2013 Facts and Figures Report, an American develops Alzheimers disease every 68 seconds, and more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimers disease right now. One in three older adults dies with Alzheimers disease or another dementia, and Alzheimers disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. This year alone, Alzheimers disease will cost the United States $203 billion; that number is expected to rise to $1.2 trillion by 2050 if a cure is not found.

Family

Friends

School

Emotions

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Changes In Intimacy And Sexuality In Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimers disease can cause changes in intimacy and sexuality in both a person with the disease and the caregiver. The person with Alzheimers may be stressed by the changes in his or her memory and behaviors. Fear, worry, depression, anger, and low self-esteem are common. The person may become dependent and cling to you. He or she may not remember your life together and feelings toward one another. The person may even fall in love with someone else.

You, the caregiver, may pull away from the person in both an emotional and physical sense. You may be upset by the demands of caregiving. You also may feel frustrated by the persons constant forgetfulness, repeated questions, and other bothersome behaviors.

Most caregivers learn how to cope with these challenges, but it takes time. Some learn to live with the illness and find new meaning in their relationships with people who have Alzheimers.

Involving People With Dementia In Daily Tasks

Talk to the relative about having things readily available that might stimulate interest or prompt an activity. For example, having a couple of half-done jobs lying around such as a pile of socks that needs sorting can sometimes provide an invitation to the person to carry on and complete it. One enterprising daughter always leaves something out for her mum to do, such as a potato with a vegetable peeler beside it or a jigsaw puzzle just started. Leaving out paper and pens may prompt the person to write or doodle. A pile of old birthday or Christmas cards to look at might also provoke interest and conversation.

Some carers do need encouragement to leave things for the person with dementia to do. They may have come to expect that they should do everything for their relative or prefer that household chores are done to their standard. It can be hard to question this when the carer is doing this with the best intentions, but they may need your help to understand why remaining active is so important. For example, you could say something like, When your wife is folding up the towels, she is obviously enjoying feeling busy and needed, but she is also keeping some important muscles working well!

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How To Communicate If You Have Dementia

Tell those close to you what you find hard and how they can help you.

For example, you may find it helpful if people calmly remind you:

  • what you were talking about
  • what someone’s name is

Other things that can help include:

  • making eye contact with the person you’re speaking with
  • turning off distractions like radio or TV
  • asking people to talk more slowly and repeat what they have said if you don’t understand it
  • asking people not to remind you that you repeat things

Support For Family Caregivers Is Important For Everyones Well

Understanding Communication: How Dementia Affects Communication

The Alzheimers Association states, Part of living well with Alzheimers is adjusting to your new normal and helping family and friends do the same. Knowing what to expect and what resources are available can make the process easier for you and those close to you.

Given the many difficulties presented by a loved one with Alzheimers, adequate support resources are vital for the individual providing the majority of the care. Experts say that a safety net of support can actually reduce anxiety for caregivers by increasing the perception that resources are available to help handle the stressful situations.

Support can be found in many different forms, including the help of other family members and close friends, partnerships with health professionals, community resources and other useful tools such as support groups, respite care, help lines, online training assistance and outside professional care.

The latest technology-based support resources for caregivers are also proving to be of significant value. Today, technological assistance is available in many forms, including: care coordination scheduling and management software; conference calling among family members; telephone support systems with automated messages; online discussion groups; electronic reminder services; computer based forums with question and answer sessions; and computer-based decision support modules.

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Dealing With Emotions And Feelings

Family members and caregivers may already expect some of the changes that will be required once a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. What many arent prepared for, says Erica, are the psychological effects. Families and caregivers can experience a range of different emotions from guilt to anger and more. Many times, these issues dont get addressed because it seems like theres always something more important to do, or it would take away time from your loved one. However, a big part of caregiving is taking care of yourself, too. In order to remain healthy yourself, its important to recognize these emotions and react to them in a healthy, beneficial way.

Here are some of the most common feelings family members and caregivers may feel when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimers:

Effects On The Caregiver

For the primary caregiver, Alzheimers disease may have as great an impact on their daily life as it does on the loved one they care for. The role of caregiver not only affects how the person spends their time but also their overall health and well-being. Full-time caregivers often suffer from stress, depression, high-blood pressure and other physical ailments brought about by the exertion and exhaustion of providing constant care unless they take good care of their own mental and physical health.

Whether the primary caregiver is the spouse or adult child of their loved one with Alzheimers, the alterations that caregiving causes in the relationship can take their emotional toll. A spouse may struggle with the loss of intimacy brought on by the disease and a child may face the challenges of caring for someone who used to be their greatest source of support. While Alzheimers disease alters these close relationships, its important for caregivers to find help and support to take care of their own needs as well as their loved ones.

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What Are Common Changes That May Affect Dynamics

Knowing which changes to expect and the effects of them can help you and your family to navigate the changes in dynamics better when the time comes. The following changes have been known to disrupt structure and impact families.

These feelings are normal and its important to realize that you are not alone in this. If you need help ask. Whether that means talking to friends and family, taking a break to do something for yourself, or asking family members to do a few things for you . . . anything can help.

Ways That Senior Loved Ones Benefit From Our Visits

Dementia affects more than just the person.

Research shows that even though a person with Alzheimers may no longer recognize a loved one, their time together has a lasting, positive impact.

Here are five reasons to continue visiting your parent or senior loved one with Alzheimers, even after the disease has progressed:

  • Even if they are unable to remember your relationship, they may remember how often you visit.
  • Opportunities to socialize can put your loved one in a better mood and help them relax.
  • People with Alzheimers still have emotional memory, remembering how an event has made them feel after forgetting the details of the event.
  • They may enjoy visits even if they cannot remember your name or your relationship with them.
  • They may recognize you even if they can not express it.
  • When was the last time that you visited loved ones with Alzheimers? What are your visits like? Wed like to hear your stories in the comments below.

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    Through our affiliation with Jewish Senior Housing and Healthcare Service, we also offer three senior living communities for those with limited incomes.

    Expert Care For Your Loved One Peace Of Mind For Your Family

    Adds Mr. Streater, For families that recognize that their loved ones needs are beyond what can be safely and effectively provided at home, leading memory care communities such as Saunders House offer a caring, compassionate and nurturing solution. At Saunders House, it is our mission not only to promote the physical and emotional well-being of our residents, but to also provide their families with peace of mind, knowing they can entrust their loved ones to our compassionate care. 

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