More than 5 million Americans suffer with Alzheimer’s disease, a condition that affects memory, behavior and cognitive ability. This means that most people have a relative or otherwise know someone that struggles with the disease. National Alzheimer’s Disease Month, held every November, is an awareness campaign designed to raise awareness of the disease, recognize the selfless efforts of family caregivers and boost support for research toward a cure.
Alzheimer’s Disease and the Elderly
Alzheimer’s disease destroys brain cells and is caused by age-related effects on the body. Genetics plays a factor in who develops it, as does an elderly person’s lifestyle. In the medium to advanced stages, Alzheimer’s disease robs seniors of their ability to take care of themselves. They can no longer live independently and in many cases, cannot even be left alone. It is then that a family member or members step up and take over caregiving duties.
Family Caregivers and Alzheimer’s Disease
When family caregivers assume care of an elderly relative with Alzheimer’s disease, they are taking on a lot of responsibility as well as stress. It’s not long before family caregivers find themselves overworked and underappreciated, with growing health and wellness issues for themselves and their loved one. Dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease requires physical and mental strength, but chronic stress can erode both of those.
The condition known as caregiver burnout is quite common in people who care for an aging adult with Alzheimer’s disease. The stress hormones that flood the body can lead to high blood pressure, poor appetite, insomnia, strain on the heart and lungs, anxiety, depression and a weakened immune system. When chronic stress is constant, family caregivers may notice a decline in their own health.
Solutions for Caregiver Stress
To stay healthy both physically and mentally, family caregivers must manage the needs of their aging loved one as well as their own. One way to do this is by hiring a senior care provider. These are professionally trained assistants that work with seniors in their own home. Capable of dealing with numerous physical and mental issues in the elderly, senior care providers spend time with the elderly as companions and aides.
Senior care providers can supervise and interact with aging adults with Alzheimer’s disease, making sure they are comfortable and safe. Senior care providers can assist elderly adults with bathing, dressing, grooming and medication management. They can also help family caregivers take care of the senior’s home by doing light housework, laundry and meal preparation. Best of all, family caregivers can take time for themselves, so they get a break from the stress of care.
It’s too easy for family caregivers with elderly relatives with Alzheimer’s disease to feel alone and without resources. National Alzheimer’s Disease Month aims to put resources and information into the hands of those who need it most—family caregivers.
If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Toms River, NJ, contact the caring staff at Care Street Home Care’s Ocean/Monmouth Division. Call today 732-719-7011.