Wednesday, November 10, 2010

National Caregivers Month: Alzheimer's Disease

By Felicia Wong, MD

Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive, irreversible brain disease. The cause is poorly understood, and there is no known cure. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, personality changes, disorientation and loss of language skills. It is the most common form of irreversible dementia.

Watching someone you love slowly lose their memory, thinking and reasoning skills can be heartbreaking. Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s Disease is a difficult task and can become overwhelming at times. As Alzheimer’s patients gradually lose their memory and their skills , each day brings new challenges to the caregiver. This is why I wanted to recognize caregivers for Alzheimer's patients in November, which is National Family Caregivers Month and Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month.

Over time, communication diminishes, rewards decrease, and without strong support from family, friends and the community, caregivers of Alzheimer's patients face challenges to their very own well-being. Maintaining emotional and physical fitness while providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease is crucial. Preparing and protecting yourself, understanding your loved one’s experience, and accepting help from others can reduce the stress associated with care-giving, and maximize the joys of being there for a loved one.

Here is a link to tips to help caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s cope.

Additional support for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers, including warning signs of caregiver burnout, and tips on how to plan your own self care can be found on Helpguide.

Find additional information on Alzheimer's and other issues affecting mental health in seniors on the American Psychiatric Association's Healthy Minds website.

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