all about alzheimers
There is no easy way to say it – a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease can be overwhelming for both the patient and family members. It leads to a fundamental life change for everyone involved. For the patient, questions rush to the surface: What happens next? Can I still work? Can I still live at home? Am I dying? What will happen to me? And for family members, the questions are as difficult: What happens to our lives? Can we depend on him any more? Will she still know me? What can we do? And will this happen to me, too? Is it hereditary? There are no easy answers to these questions. What we know is that Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease in which brain functions deteriorate, including memory, decision-making and ability to communicate. We have little understanding of why this happens although we are learning more every day. We know less about prevention and treatment. And we know there is no cure. As scientists learn more about the physical causes of the disease, eventually a cure may be found. But we are not there yet. These are difficult things to face for all of us. However, understanding as much as possible about what is happening to us or our loved one is an important tool in coping with the inevitable changes caused by the disease -- biological, physical and emotional. We need to become aware of how the diagnosis was determined. And as caregivers, we need to recognize ways to support the patient and adapt to his increasing limitations as well as learn to care for ourselves so that we do not experience caregiver burnout. For the individual with Alzheimer’s, the challenge is in learning how to live a fulfilled life, in whatever way possible. Physical exercise, nutrition and keeping mentally active are important components in this quest. It is also essential to seek out support for the patient and the family, a significant factor in increasing the quality of life for both. We cannot cure Alzheimer’s, we cannot fix it. But we can learn to live with the disease. And to be there, as much as possible, for each other. Because Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects everyone involved.