Alzheimer’s and effects on the family

Alzheimer’s disease affects every aspect of life for the family and the person with dementia. For families, the changes to a loved one’s personality and independence can be devastating. Some of the most common feelings families and caregivers experience are guilt, grief and anger. Rest assured that you are not alone if you find yourself feeling these emotions.

Guilt.  It is quite common to feel guilty—guilty at feeling embarrassed by a loved one’s odd behavior or for not wanting the responsibility of caring for a loved one with dementia. There is also guilt when you are unable to care for a loved one at home and need to get them in to residential care.

Grief. When a loved one develops dementia, we are faced with the loss of the person we used to know and the loss of a relationship. People caring for partners may experience grief at the loss of the future that they had planned to share together.

Anger. It is natural to feel frustrated and angry—angry at having to be a caregiver, angry with others who do not seem to be helping out and angry at the person with dementia for difficult behaviors. Feelings of distress, frustration, guilt, exhaustion and annoyance are quite normal.

It is important for family members of a loved one with dementia to learn more about the disease. If you are a caregiver, sit down with the members of your family and ask what they are willing to do to help. Give them ideas and suggestions. Don’t just assume that they know what you need. They can’t read your mind, and they may already be doing what they think is helpful.

Keep everyone  informed. Send a regular group email with updates. Keeping the lines of communication with your family and friends open will help them understand more easily what you and your loved one are going through. The better they understand, the more willing they’ll be to pitch in and help.

On Tuesday, May 7, Bridges by EPOCH at Westford will offer an educational presentation on Alzheimer’s and the effects on family. The presentation will be given by Alicia Seaver, a certified memory care specialist, at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the Westford Regency, located at 219 Littleton Road. More information can be found here. 

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