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Understanding the Profound Impact of Dementia and Alzheimer's on Families

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Written by SHARATH V S

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a set of brain diseases that transpire when brain cells stop working properly. It can cause memory issues, hard focus, bad brain skills, and more. The disease affects many, and many feel the impacts, including family members. In this blog, we help you grasp the deep impacts of Alzheimer's and Dementia on families.

Overview of Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease 

As mentioned in our introduction, Dementia is a term used to describe a set of brain disorders that, over time, destroy nerve cells, damage the brain, and lead to many psychological, and physical issues in individuals with dementia.

Alzheimer’s is the most common type of Dementia, causing almost 55 million individuals worldwide. Like all dementia, Alzheimer's too gets worse over time, and currently, there is no cure available for dementia-related disease. All the medications currently accessible aim to alleviate symptoms and enhance overall quality of life.

Emotional and Physical Alzheimer's and Dementia Effects on Families

The majority of individuals with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia stay with their families. Unfortunately, home care isn’t always easy. With the changing demands of the needs of people with dementia, caregivers can feel burnout and experience both physical and emotional burdens. Let’s understand these aspects in depth. 

Emotional Effects of Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease

Seeing people you care about struggle with memory loss and confusion is hard. As a family member, you go through a range of emotions. Sometimes, you feel sad, angry, and sometimes guilty seeing changes in behavior and personality. Some psychological effects include:-

Dementia Caregiver Stress

For many, stress is a direct byproduct of Dementia caregiving. When you see your loved one's health deteriorate and behavior change, it naturally heightens the level of stress.

Dealing with Depression

Caring for someone with dementia is a big job. It can really harm your cognitive fitness. According to  2018 research by Maastricht University in the Netherlands, 20 hours or more of unpaid family caregiving a week can make you feel sad and depressed. 

Beating Loneliness in Caregiving

Caregiving is demanding and a long-term responsibility. Consequently, limiting your social interaction to a few phone calls and occasional visits. This change of lifestyle sometimes develops a feeling of loneliness.

Marriage Strain in Caregiving

Taking care of a partner with dementia carries distinct challenges. It limits social activities, as you are constantly involved in caregiving, and limits personal time, causing emotional strain. Surprisingly, even studies have shown that the spouse of a person with dementia is at high risk of developing dementia.

Physical Effects of Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease

It is true that there aren’t many studies that directly link Dementia to physical weakening. But, one out of three people who help dementia patients feels tired and weak.  Below, we have listed a few factors that back this statement.

Neglecting Self-Care

As a caregiver, you are usually so deeply concentrated on helping the person that you often forget your own health. Maintaining a poor diet, lack of exercise, and subpar sleep quality can lead to protracted health problems.

Higher Mortality Risk

Prolonged health conditions, comorbidities, and stress related to dementia caregiving increase mortality risk to a whopping 63%, especially in seniors with a history of chronic illness. 

Enduring Chronic Stress

Chronic stress, akin to an endless fight or flight response, causes continuous alertness and sensed danger, leading to long-term physical and psychological pressure. It often seeps into various facets of life, affecting both relationships and work. 

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Social and Relationship Dynamics

Dementia is a condition wherein caregivers' social and relationship dynamics go through a drastic shift. They often experience stress in family and interpersonal connections due to the demanding characteristics of their role.

Balancing between responsibilities and social connections can be challenging. A proper channel of communication and support can play a crucial role.

Navigating Changing Family Roles

Dementia involves adapting to modifications in caregiving dynamics and emotional connections. With this, your previous role in the house may change. Now, as a caregiver, you may face challenges in decision-making and maintaining communication as your loved ones become increasingly dependent.

Self-awareness, support service, and taking care of yourself and the individuals with dementia are very important in addressing these changes.

The Impact on Social Life and Isolation

The effect of dementia on social life often leads to isolation. You may find it quite challenging to maintain your social connections as you are now more involved with caregiving responsibilities. After a while, this leads to feelings of loneliness.

People with dementia may also experience social withdrawal, further deepening isolation. Seeking support groups can definitely alleviate these negative effects by providing much-needed social space and support.

Financial and Healthcare Challenges

When caring for people with dementia, it is natural that your financial and healthcare needs and challenges arise as a caregiver may face reduced working hours or leave your job entirely, leading to financial problems. Here are the two aspects of financial and healthcare challenges of Dementia.

Managing Healthcare Costs and Resources

Dealing with Alzheimer's and dementia involves grappling with steep healthcare expenses. Families often face situations where money crunch, straining their budget. In fact, my insurance coverage, too, falls short of covering these long-term needs. Utilizing community programs and investigating financial planning solutions can aid families in navigating these obstacles, ensuring their loved ones receive necessary care without jeopardizing their financial well-being.

The Burden of Long-Term Care

Dementia and Alzheimer's require long-term care, which many a time creates a heavy financial load on families. The costs can quickly escalate, leading to financial tension and emotional stress. Without sufficient insurance coverage, families may need to take out their savings or retirement funds, impacting their long-term financial security. Addressing this burden requires comprehensive support systems.

Support and Resources for Families

We understand that helping someone with Dementia isn’t easy. But you can handle it competently by giving a little more attention to your health. If you are finding caregiver responsibility a little overwhelming or exhausting, then do try these tips.

Caregiving Contract: Supportive Terms

It is also known as a personal care agreement. This agreement ensures that all family members understand their obligations and fulfill their responsibilities in their caregiving role.  

Ask for Help: Caregiving Strategies

A lot of time we hesitate to ask for help, however, when we do that, especially in the case of caregiving, we are shutting down our options to revitalize our energy. By seeking help, we are asking for someone from the family to step in for a while, which in turn offers enough time for us to regain our health and feel fresh.

Personalized Care: Your Approach

If they wish, it is in the best interest of people with dementia to be allowed to live where they prefer, whether it be in their own house or with you, as long as it is feasible for them. Furthermore, enabling them to engage in activities they love can help keep them relaxed.

Memory Care Exploration

If the demands of dementia are advancing and if you are finding yourself in a tight spot, don’t be hard on yourself. That's perfectly acceptable, and you might want to consider transitioning them to a memory care facility.

Support Group Strength  

Dementia caregiving is complicated and sometimes it may be too much for some. Joining a support group can help you in this case. Support groups offer unique spaces where you get a chance to meet people with the same interests and stories. Here you can learn new things, share experiences, and gain strength to face your challenges.

Dementia Education for Caregivers

Having deep knowledge about something often provides an advantage. Similarly, educating yourself on different states of dementia can enhance your understanding of the condition better and prepare you to handle the situation more effectively.

Coping with Dementia and Alzheimer's with Cadabams

Coping with Dementia and Alzheimer’s can be difficult for the caregiver as well as for the person with these conditions. We understand it’s not always easy to provide the best care at home due to the many challenges associated with it. Therefore, at Cadabam, we offer you a space wherein you can send your loved ones confidently for the treatment and care they truly deserve. 

With our large pool of specialized doctors, therapists, and support staff, we have created an environment where residents can feel relaxed and comfortable. So, if you are looking for a suitable place for your loved ones, then Cadabam can be your choice. 

If you are searching for a solution to your problem, Cadabam’s Rehabilitation Centre can help you with its team of specialized experts. We have been helping thousands of people live healthier and happier lives for 30+ years. We leverage evidence-based approaches and holistic treatment methods to help individuals effectively manage their Dementia and Alzheimer's. Get in touch with us today. You can call us at +91 96111 94949

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1. What are the impacts of Alzheimer's disease on the family?

Alzheimer's can strain familial relationships due to caregiving responsibilities, financial burdens, and emotional stress. Family members may experience grief, frustration, and exhaustion while navigating the challenges of the disease.

2. What are the potential impact on the family of a person with dementia?

Families may face disruptions in daily routines, increased caregiver stress, financial strain from medical expenses, and emotional turmoil as they witness their loved one's cognitive decline. Communication difficulties and role changes within the family can also arise.

3. Why is the family important in dementia?

The family plays a pivotal role in offering emotional support, aiding with daily activities, and advocating for the individual with dementia. Family members offer familiarity and comfort, promoting a sense of security and continuity for the affected individual amidst cognitive decline.

4. What are some of the most significant hurdles encountered by individuals with Alzheimer's and their families?

Alzheimer's presents challenges such as memory loss, cognitive decline, mood changes, and difficulty performing daily activities. Families struggle with managing these symptoms, navigating healthcare systems, coping with caregiver stress, and maintaining their own well-being while supporting their loved ones.

5. What is the influence of Alzheimer's and dementia?

The impact factor encompasses societal, economic, and personal burdens associated with Alzheimer's and dementia. This includes healthcare costs, lost productivity, caregiver burden, and emotional toll on families. Addressing these factors requires comprehensive strategies for prevention, early detection, and improved care.

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