World Alzheimer's Day 2022: How This Disease Affects Family Of The Patient

When a family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, the effects of the same on the family can be overwhelming. Gerontologists and psychologists often refer to the families of those with Alzheimer's disease as the 'Invisible Second Patient.'

By Prerna Targhotra
Tue, 20 Sep 2022 11:44 AM IST
Minute Read
World Alzheimer's Day 2022: How This Disease Affects Family Of The Patient
Image Credits: Reuters

ALZHEIMER's is a neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and progressively worsens, a type of dementia that impacts memory, behaviour and thinking. It is a brain disorder that slowly destroys the memory and thinking skills of a person eventually hindering the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.

Alzheimer's disease affects not only the person suffering from it but the entire family. When a family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, the effects of the same on the family can be overwhelming. It can trigger a range of emotions including sadness, fear, anger and frustration. It can also lead to conflicts in the family about making the decisions for the patient's treatment, care, finances and life care. Gerontologists and psychologists often refer to the families of those with Alzheimer's disease as the 'Invisible Second Patient.'

According to Peggy O'Neil, Director of Sales and Marketing at Lions Gate, New Jersey, Alzheimer's disease can make families come together, but can also cause a lot of stress. "When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, families may come together in support of their loved one even if they had no contact for years. This support can help a loved one suffering through the disease feel comforted, knowing that old conflicts are being put to rest and the family is together again," says Peggy. "But when the disease progresses, it can also be the reason for more conflicts in the family. Being prepared and having a caregiving game plan can help to prevent those conflicts and give your loved one the best care possible."

Read below some effects of Alzheimer's on family, according to The professional journal, "Family caregivers of people with Dementia" by Henry Brodaty.

1. Growing financial challenges

The cost associated with caring for Alzheimer's disease is high. The costs include physician care, diagnostic tests, personal nursing care and medicines. Other costs include loss of earnings by family caregivers.

2. Increasing Social Isolation

The caregivers tend to give up their leisure pursuits and hobbies to take care of the loved one. They often lack social contact and support and as a result experience social isolation. It also results in reduced privacy and personal time with friends.

3. Distress

Distress increases in the caregivers of Alzheimer's patients. The fear of losing the loved one and the increase in emotional reactions can lead to high levels of stress in the family members of the Alzheimer's disease patient. Stress can result in psychological problems including depression and anxiety that should be treated immediately.

4. Increased risk of physical illness

The family of the Alzheimer's patient can experience a great number of physical health problems such as cardiovascular problems, lower immunity, poor sleep patterns, slower wound healing and higher levels of chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, ulcers and anemia.

 

(Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment.)

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