Caring for Family Members with Alzheimer's Disease Essay

Caring for Family Members with Alzheimer's Disease Essay

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"Confusion, Anxiety, Anger and Pain, Despair" these are some of the words that Kaunie Hagensen uses to describe her condition in the poem Lost. (Hagensen 1999) These feelings are shared by many people today who suffer from, or have family members who suffer from Alzheimer's disease. The Encyclopedia of Alzheimer's Disease describes it as being, "a progressive degenerative disease characterized by the death of nerve cells in several areas of the brain. While the most obvious symptom is loss of memory, the disease also causes problems with emotional control, vision, and language." (Turkington 2003, 14) "Alzheimer's disease" has previously been used to describe dementia arising in middle age, but because of the neuropathological differences that have been found, today it refers to a "common primary degenerative dementia occurring later in life" also known as senile dementia. (Evans 1990, 267) The change in the meaning of Alzheimer’s disease occurred prior to the 1960’s. This disease is a problem that primarily affects elderly persons age 85 and older, but recently it has also been associated with adults 65 years and older. As life expectancy increases, so does the impact of the disease, especially in developed countries like the United States. A study that estimated the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease in the United States used results from East Boston in 1980, and applied them, by age and sex, to population projections for the United States from 1990 to 2050. The results of this study showed that in 1980, 11.3 percent of people 65 years of age or older had Alzheimer's disease. By 2050, the number of persons 65 years of age or older that have Alzheimer's disease in the United States is expected to exceed 10 million. (Evans...

... middle of paper ..., an abrupt and immediate end to strain is not a realistic outcome of institutionalization.” (Dellasega 1991, 204)

Because there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, taking on the responsibility of caring for patients in the home is a long term responsibility that requires a lot of planning and consideration. This is not a decision to be made on a whim or because of emotion. All options need to be weighed, and everyone affected needs to be considered. Placing a family member in a long-term care facility does not spell out neglect. Depending on the circumstances of the caregiver, caring for the patient in the home may lead to more neglect. The ‘right choice’ is different in each case, but without considering all the facets of your own situation the wrong choice will be made. I hope that this information will make that heavy decision a little easier to bear.

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