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Sunday, Oct 14 2012 03:58 PM

B Connected: Caring for someone with Alzheimer's is stressful

By Luciana Cramer

Families caring for loved ones affected with dementia soon realize that this is no ordinary caregiving. Dementia patients gradually require increased assistance ranging from simple appointment reminders in the early stages of the disease to hands-on assistance with all activities of daily living in the later stages.

People affected with progressive dementia may reach a point in the disease requiring extensive 24/7 care. Late- stage dementia care includes complex medication and nutritional management, incontinence monitoring, dressing, cognitive- and ambulatory-enhancing activities, aspiration prevention and fall control, among many other things. Family members who often have already spent years in monitoring and dedicated care may find the additional requirements of late-stage care overwhelming. The cumulative stress of caregiving may result in severe safety and health hazards for both patients and caregivers.

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What makes dementia caregiving even more stressful, as opposed to caregiving for conditions that do not affect cognition, is that the patient often does not understand why they must be helped, often resisting every attempt at assistance. Without specific dementia-care education, family caregivers have great difficulties in avoiding daily confrontations and keeping a safe environment.

Family caregivers can alleviate the relentless stress involved in dementia care by accessing some of the help available in the community. There is an extensive range of services available to family caregivers, including day-care centers, in-home helpers, home-delivered meals and transportation services. All of them can help ease the caregiving burden and make the job more manageable.

Caregivers also benefit from supportive services and educational opportunities, such as provided by the Alzheimer’s Association. The care specialists can help caregivers design care plans, connect to services in the community, understand the disease and develop strategies to communicate and cope with the challenges associated with dementia care.

You can get in contact with a specialist, 24/7 at 1-800-272-3900.

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