Facing the Diagnosis
Ever wonder what you would experience when you first faced the thought of your loved one being diagnosed with the onset of Dementia or Alzheimer's?
The mere thought of this start on the road to Alzheimer's should fill you with dread. And it is a well-deserved feeling. This is nothing you would have ever experienced in your life, and I hope you never will.
The statistics bear out a very unhealthy future for seniors over 65 of age. The Fisher Center & Alzheimer's Research Foundation estimates that 6.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's. They also predict that every 65 seconds, someone else is diagnosed with this disease.
A Global Crisis
The worldwide statistics paint an even bleaker picture. Several agencies, including WHO, the National Institutes of Health, and the Alzheimer's Association, predict that over 55 million people will be suffering from this disease in 2023, and this number will reach 78 million by 2030.
What makes this even more disturbing is that for every person with Alzheimer's, there is at least one person, spouse, or family member having the arduous task of caregiving! That would double the number of people dealing with the devasting sickness to well over 12 million Americans!
1 in 3 seniors die from Alzheimer's or other forms of Dementia. Alzheimer's disease kills more people every year than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and hypertension combined. Millions of people have been given the news that a person close to them is now living with the disease.
Studies from the medical profession have indicated that there are millions of Americans suffering from some form of Dementia that have not been diagnosed!
The Unique Challenge of Alzheimer's Care
Unfortunately, this is one disease where standard medical treatments don't apply, and the burden of ongoing care falls on spouses, children, family members, and close friends!
Alzheimer's is a slowly progressing degenerative disease that affects a person's ability to function in a normal environment, and eventually, the memory loss is so complete the patient loses all track of where they are and who they are and their grip on reality disappears.
While there have been many advances in treating this disease, and some new medications on the market have shown promise, they only serve to delay the inevitable decline in the sufferer's life. They are also incredibly expensive, and many are not covered by medical insurance.
The Challenge of Caregiving
This is where the challenge of becoming a caregiver and dealing with your loved one suffering from Alzheimer's becomes a truly awesome task. Seeing and witnessing the loss of your loved one's sense of living and joy in life is possibly the worst experience of your life.
Until you are actually caring for someone, you have no concept of the type of stress you will undergo on a daily basis. If you don't have some help from family or close friends, this task can become almost unbearable for the caregiver. Studies have indicated that many caregivers will experience a range of issues, including anger, resentment, loneliness, and a sense of isolation that will make their own lives seem hopeless.
I am now experiencing some of these issues and doing my best to adjust to the reality of being a caregiver. Meditation has become a fixture in my daily routine and helps to keep my stress at a moderate level.
The Alzheimer's Association has done an incredible job of providing information on Dementia and Alzheimer's, including a network of support groups for caregivers. While this is an excellent benefit for those who sign up for this type of assistance and support, it can also be a sobering reminder of what the future is likely to be for your loved one.
Finding Solace in Shared Experiences
I joined two support groups at the Association's recommendation and found some relief in being able to talk with other caregivers about my feelings. Unfortunately, each person's experience only accentuates my feelings, and frequently, I leave the group feeling pretty discouraged.
A Glimpse into the Caregiver's Journey
This article is my first attempt to shine some light on what a caregiver will be challenged with for that special person in their lives.
In my follow-up articles, I will try to give you some of my thoughts on how to deal with this new horizon you may be facing and hopefully give you the courage to overcome the feelings you are likely to encounter.
Get in Touch
If you have any comments or would like to share your thoughts, by all means, please send me an email.