There’s nothing worse than watching a loved one’s mind deteriorate. This article offers tips for coping with Alzheimer’s family members and staying positive.
Alzheimer’s is a medical condition that can place an enormous amount of stress on an entire family. While researchers are making progress toward Alzheimer’s treatment, we’re not at the stage yet where it’s fully preventable.
But, that doesn’t mean the future has to be bleak for everyone involved. There are still plenty of ways to stay positive and make the most out of the unfortunate situation.
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we got you covered.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about coping with Alzheimer’s family members.
It’s Nothing to Be Ashamed of
Alzheimer’s is a particularly difficult medical condition for family members to deal with due to the complications it involves. But, some of these aren’t quite as obvious as others.
While caretaking is the main source of stress when it comes to accommodating a family member with this disease, there are unseen complications, as well.
It’s not unlikely for loved ones to feel ashamed of their family member’s condition. They might be afraid to talk about it out of fear people won’t understand.
Even worse, they may feel as though others will view the condition as something that resulted from the afflicted’s previous habits.
For example, there are people out there who think someone diagnosed with lung cancer must have been a heavy smoker and that the diagnosis is their fault for not taking care of their health.
In reality, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, and you should never feel that it is. It’s simply an unfortunate part of life, but you can make the best of it.
Don’t Assume a Diagnosis Is a Death Sentence
The progression of Alzheimer’s is not linear, meaning a diagnosis is not at all a death sentence.
There are cases where Alzheimer’s may become particularly bad after a year or two, but some patients with the disease can live for two decades (or beyond) after their diagnosis.
One of the worst things you can do is to immediately abandon all hope as soon as the doctor informs you of their diagnosis.
While it may seem difficult at first to maintain a positive outlook, an Alzheimer’s diagnosis isn’t always as bleak as it seems.
They’re Still The Same Person
As previously mentioned, a diagnosis doesn’t mean an immediate downward spiral for the patient. Even though there will be complications that arise, they’re still the same person they were before you got the medical news.
Alzheimer’s doesn’t make you a completely different individual. You’ll still have the same interests, distastes, and sense of humor.
While patients may feel discouraged when they begin to frequently forget names, places, etc., it’s vital to remind them that it’s a normal occurrence with the disease and that they’ll just need to work a bit harder to remember things.
You can also turn negativity into positivity.
For example, as Alzheimer’s progresses to later stages, the patient will become more prone to wandering off. But, if you catch a family member going off on their own, you can go with them and turn the experience into an afternoon walk around the neighborhood.
It’s also scientifically proven that being outside provides numerous physical and psychological benefits for Alzheimer’s patients, so it’s not always a bad thing if they end up outdoors!
Show Love and Socialize as Often as You Can
Imagine how coping with Alzheimer’s is from the patient’s point of view. They have trouble remembering the names of their childhood friends, their sharp wit is a bit duller these days, and they often walk into a room and immediately forget the purpose.
Over time, these scenarios can wear someone down mentally and make them feel like a shadow of their former selves.
This all accumulates and makes patients feel very isolated and out of touch with their surroundings, friends, and family.
But, you have the opportunity to put these thoughts at ease. While showing love may seem like a simple solution, it’s often much-needed by the patient (even if they don’t show it).
Similarly, socializing is vital to maintaining their quality of life and may even slow down the progression of the disease. Socializing requires an extra level of thinking, an opportunity to vent their own feelings, and offers plenty of chances for humor and positivity.
While you don’t have to spend hours a day talking to your loved one, a simple conversation often carries more weight than you’re aware of.
One of the most important things you can do is educate yourself on the disease and how it affects the brain. There is nothing else that can help you prepare better for caring for your loved one and dealing with the new complications that arise.
The more you understand it, the more you’ll be able to recognize signs of progression (or even improvements)! You will also understand how to handle and prevent common issues (such as wandering off).
Perhaps most importantly, this education will help you understand when it’s time to take the next step and get extra help.
Whether it’s through talking with your doctor or your own independent research, strive to learn all that you can about Alzheimer’s so you can better cope with the situation.
Coping with Alzheimer’s Family Members Can Seem Difficult
But it doesn’t have to be.
With the above information about coping with Alzheimer’s family members in mind, you’ll be well on your way to staying as positive as possible.
Want to learn about steps you can take to age more gracefully? This article has plenty of useful information.