DIMENSIONS Winter 2002

It's Alzheimer's -- Now What Do I Do?

by Arlene Sleigh

This article was contributed by the Inland Northwest Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.

From the day Alzheimer's disease enters our lives, we begin a continual adjustment, very similar to when we lose a loved-one. Whether it is oneself, or a beloved family member, our lives are no longer the same. At first there may be denial, anger and resentment that may lead to depression, and hopefully, eventual acceptance. Some may never accept the situation. It depends on your age, general health, financial circumstances, and the closeness of your family members. Then, too, there may be difficulty with the changing of lifestyle roles; a child becoming the "parent," the wife taking over the financial affairs, the husband taking over the household duties. Some families will not be able to resolve their differences, and only make matters more difficult by their disagreements.

Getting a professional evaluation by your family doctor or a neurologist is a beginning. Learn as much as possible about the disease, seek current information available through your local Alzheimer's Association, and attend their support groups. Just knowing you are not alone can help. At first the caregiver may feel he/she can manage the job of caring for the person afflicted, alone, and in time, not realize how overwhelming it has become, thus becoming isolated. Eventually, one must seek the assistance of others for their own health, taking into consideration that it would only make the situation more difficult if the caregiver became incapacitated. One must learn to call upon family, friends, church members, and community services such as senior companions, home health, day care, respite care, and support groups.

We are here for you. Alzheimer's Association, Inland NW Chapter - (800) 256-6659

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