Elderly Care – How An Alzheimer’s Diagnosis Affects the Family

Posted: 4/1/2014 12:19 PM by Interim HealthCare
It’s normal for some family members to have a hard time accepting the diagnosis their elderly parent has Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. It may make family members feel anxious or depressed. They may also worry about financial or legal issues. The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s affects the entire family, not just the person who is considered to be the primary caregiver.

Some of the common reactions family members have include
  •  Sadness and grief
  •   A sense of loss
  •  Worry their loved one won’t remember them
  •  Anxiety and fear
  •  Disappointment and denial
  •  Guilt and anger
  •  Feelings of being overwhelmed
  •  Not knowing what to do
It’s important not to deny these feelings; it doesn’t mean the person is weak. It’s just that the diagnosis can be hard to come to terms with. There are support groups available for Alzheimer’s disease that can help the family to discuss their feelings. You can also consult a professional such as a counselor, social worker or psychologist.

Strategies for coping with emotional stress caused by the diagnosis
  •  Increase enjoyable activities, especially social activities and physical activities
  •  Talk with a friend or counselor
  •  Realize what you can do is enough. You can’t do more than you can do
  •  Accept that some things won’t go back to the way they were before
  •  Try getting away from the situation for a while. But make sure you come back to it when feeling stronger so you can work through the feelings
  •  Get help. You can’t handle this alone. Elder care services can provide an expert caregiver who can take over the caregiving role and let you return to your loving child role.
For getting long-term plans in place, sooner is better than later. Even though you may not want to think of it at this time, the difficult decisions are better made while your parent can still offer their point of view and be part of the decision making process.

Some items to include in your long-term plans:
  •  Educate yourself about living wills, powers of attorney etc.
  •  Form a network of family and friends you can call on for help, assistance and support
  •  Find out what respite opportunities you have available in your area
  •  Make sure your loved one has access to a doctor who specializes in geriatric medicine and/or dementia
Your physical health and mental health are both important to look after. For a while after your parent’s diagnosis you may feel like you just can’t take it all in. You will need a while to settle in to what’s happening and accept what the future holds. Once you feel like you can start planning again, make sure you have regular time for yourself.

If you or an aging loved one are considering home care services, contact Interim HealthCare today. G+