the definition of the disease
Alzheimer's is a disease that affects the whole body. Many people just notice the memory loss, thinking and yes the behavior. This disease affects 3 million people per year. Most every person knows at least one person with this disease. Alzheimer's usually starts out with little signs that we all take for granted. We lose things that we put in that place we won't forget. We begin to forget about personal hygiene. Many patients become frightened of water.
The only real way to have this disease diagnosed is through lab tests and brain imaging. Some doctors also use verbal tests and see if the patient can remember. There is no cure for this disease and too many it seems not even any research into it. We hear so much of the celebrities have it but not the ordinary people. Medication can sometimes stop the progression of this disease. Some of these medications can cause side effects worse than the disease.
Many people say that everyone goes through the disease at the same pace. That is not true. Some of the stages seem to go on for months or years and some just long enough that you noticed them and they are gone. People become impulsive and do things they would never do before. Some people see things that are not there. I know some that say they have seen elephants where there was none.
People can gain weight because they forgot they ate. Some lose weight because they think they just ate. The Alzheimer's Association is a good organization to help with information and emotional support for the caregivers during this disease. They have information about the disease that caregivers need. They have a package that they give to caregivers that has a book and a note pad and other things to help.
As a caregiver, you don't need to feel alone. There are many support groups of other caregivers who have people with this disease. I found these groups helpful. You find out that others have gotten through the stage your loved one is going through. You can relax at these meetings because you know there are people you can talk to at these meetings.
The victims of this disease are not being hurtful on purpose. A person has to remember it is the disease. If you as the caregiver choose to take care of your loved one at one; you will find it isn't always easy. The loved one who used to love your fried chicken may not like it anymore. They may sleep through your schedule that you always had but now it is their schedule. You find out that you don't argue with them because it won't change the situation and just makes things worse. I heard it described as we leave our world and enter theirs.
If you are one of the caregivers that have to put your loved ones in a nursing home; you don't have it easier. You need to become their guardian, conservator, their payee if they are on Social Security as well. You have to have a durable power of attorney because they no longer can make decisions for themselves. You need to know about your loved ones end of life decisions. You can hope that the nursing home is in the same town as you for visiting purposes. If not you have to have a good working relationship with the home. Make them know that you are the guardian and all decisions go through you.
Some people who have Alzheimer's also have heart problems so be ready for the heart attacks and strokes which could happen. Be ready for the fact, that you are going to get notified that your loved one falls. That goes with the disease. Later in the disease, you find out that your loved one can't speak anymore. That is because that part of the brain has been affected. This disease can go on for months or years or be terminal. It is hard on relationships with the caregivers because unless your friends are different than most, they disappear. They don't understand why you have to do something for this loved one on a specific date. They don't understand that your loved one now is a very important part of your life. They can't say to you that I hope your loved one gets better because it doesn't
Unless you have a good support team you will become depressed and my recommendation is that you have a counselor to talk to. Have a cell phone with you 24/7 for calls. Allow yourself some me-time in your day. If it is a long bubble bath or just some time to walk and don't forget to eat healthy for yourself. You need to be healthy as well. You don't do your loved one any good if you get sick too.