Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia which is the loss of intellectual function. Unfortunately there is no current treatment for this disease. According to the British Journal New Scientist it is the fourth biggest killer in the world after heart disease
and cancer. The actual cause of Alzheimer’s Disease is still unknown and continues to baffle scientist all over the world. What they do know is that it involves the gradual destruction of brain cells, so that parts of the brain may shrink. The part of the brain that is affected the worst is those involving memory and thinking ability. What happens is that the cells in the brain system, involved in the emotions are affected early in the disease, resulting in personality changes. This disease usually lasts anywhere from 5 to 10 years or sometimes even longer. As the disease continues to progress, the sufferer will be able to do less and less. It will eventually get to the point where they will no longer be able to recognize their own family. This has happened to my family and it can be a very difficult thing to deal with. Although in my grandfathers case he died before he reached the final stages from other causes.
The initial onset of this disease is physically painless, but it does cause the family and the victim a great deal of pain. The best thing that the family can do is to face the disease right away, and learn how to ease the emotional pain that will be experienced by all. When your family member is first diagnosed with this disease it will help to learn all that you can. One thing that your family member will need is your help to maintain their dignity and self esteem. You will want to avoid treating them like children especially in front of other people. They may not fully understand what is being said but they will understand if they are being put down. It is still possible for them to feel humiliated. As difficult as it may be at first try to stay positive,you will want to try your best to do so. Of course they will need your help to continue with their every day daily tasks, such as just being able to sit at the table, or to brush their teeth. In the book by Sharon Fish, called; Alzheimer’s -Caring for Your Loved One, Caring for Yourself, there are many practical suggestions of how to assist those who have this disease. Since the loss of abilities does happen gradually, you will want to make sure they still use the abilities they do have. Also you can still let them help with the household chores, such as sweeping the floors or dusting. It may not be done perfectly, and you still may have to do it again, but this will help them to still feel needed.
They will need constant reassurance and commendation, you do not want them to feel useless. If you are going to be caring for them yourself, then you will need to learn how to handle embarrassing behavior that may occur from time to time. If something does happen do not lose your patience or belittle them. Try to remain calm and remember that the person is not trying to aggravate or annoy you. If they make a mistake it is not really necessary for you to correct them. If after some time has passed you find that it is just too much for you to handle then you may want to consider putting them in a facility or hiring a nurse that is trained to deal with this type of disease. Even before you decide to take on the challenge of caring for your loved one with this disease, you need to make sure that you think it through. This is really a lot to deal with, and remember that it will get worse not better. You will definitely want to tell your friends and their friends, that they have this disease, so that they will understand, and be able to help when they come and visit.