Alzheimer’s in the Family – Common Challenges

Alzheimer’s disease, having no sure diagnosis in the patient’s lifetime & no cure, has a tremendous impact on the lives of patients as well as their family members. More & more adults are finding themselves filling the role of sole caretaker of an elderly parent or other family member who has Alzheimer’s disease, & enduring all of the worry, stress & unpredictability that inevitably accompany such responsibility. The degenerative nature of the disease makes initial diagnosis of probable Alzheimer’s disease a challenge, & the profound effect it has on a patient’s ability to think logically can make it hard to reason with the patient regarding the most suitable arrangement for her or his health care.

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, many patients are unable to distinguish or unwilling to acknowledge that they may be experiencing a decline in judgment, mental ability & memory. Additionally, Alzheimer’s disease develops in elders, who generally have cared for themselves for decades & are resistant to the notion that another person has the power to determine that they may no longer be capable of doing so. Often, family members such as patients’ adult children are among the first to notice changes in a patient’s behavior, prompting the need to visit a doctor for analysis. Even if a family member who is showing signs of dementia is reluctant or obstinate, taking him or her to a specialist for evaluation is an important step in order to rule out certain conditions & to determine if Alzheimer’s disease is a likely culprit for changes in behavior. In the case that a patient is diagnosed with the disease, part time or full time care may be required.

Depending on the stage of Alzheimer’s disease, a patient may need periodic care or may require 24 hour constant supervision. Patients often move into the home of an adult child or into an assisted living community for Alzheimer’s patients. A major challenge associated with Alzheimer’s disease is the emotional & financial toll it takes on caregivers, which are usually family members who begin to spend many hours each week attending to the basic & medical needs of the patient. The degenerative nature of Alzheimer’s disease makes it increasingly complicated to fulfill the basic needs of a patient, with many becoming unable to cook, eat & bathe on their own over time.

Sole care givers of Alzheimer’s patients often exhibit high rates of stress & depression related to the extent of responsibility. Caregivers can ease the burden by becoming educated about the physical & mental changes that are affecting their loved one, so as to better understand how to most effectively respond to her or his behavior. Many care givers find relief in the company of others who are experiencing similar circumstances at support group meetings for Alzheimer’s caregivers.

About the Author: John Trevey is the C.E.O. of Uncommon Care, an assisted living Austin Texas home specializing in Alzheimer’s care. He is the manager of both The Barton House & the Breckinridge. For lots more information, please visit