Following Alzheimer’s Diagnosis: Caregiver Fears
This list of fears is not in any order of priority, but they are fears and concerns common to caregivers.
I won't be able to cope
When your spouse/your loved one first hears the news that they have Alzheimer’s it is a big shock for you both. Of course you have known for a long time that something is wrong. You have hoped that their diagnosis will lead to a cure. You now know that is impossible. The type of dementia they have cannot be cured but it can be treated. Try not to despair. Here is a link to drug treatments for Alzheimer’s that can help and can give short term improvement. Family and friends will be important source of comfort and support. Now is the time to find out all you can about Alzheimer’s disease. Here is a link to information- Just Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Change will occur but it tends to be gradual and most people find they adapt very well as a result.
Their personality will be destroyed.
You will be worried that the person you know and love will suddenly become a stranger. Certainly someone with Alzheimer’s will change as their Alzheimer’s disease progresses. It is important to remember that although they have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s they are not just the disease. They will still retain much of their personality for a long time. But as their memory loss becomes more severe and they get confused they do lose skills and their role changes within the family and in society. This is an adaptive process and part of a journey that is far from easy. In the very advanced stages of the disease the person you knew and loved is likely to become a shadow of the person they once were.
We will not be able to cope financially
Financial worries are common but you need to find out as quickly as you can what help is available. Here are some links to further information:
I'll lose friends and social contacts
The way people react to illnesses is highly variable. People sometimes find it easier to avoid a situation they may find uncomfortable. There are a few things you can do;
- Make the effort to contact friends and family even when you don’t feel like it!
- Educate friends and family on how Alzheimer’s affects behavior. People often feel needlessly fearful about how they act at times. Sometime they fear their prescence will be viewed as an intrusion or they quite simply fear what they don't understand. Reassurance and a warm welcome can help reduce their worries.
- Try to put aside some time for your own social activities. Ask family/friends to sit with the person with Alzheimer’s when you go out.
- Contact your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to find out about social events for you and your loved one. Meeting people in a similar situation to yourselves provides you will social support and friendship.
My life is now over
Try not to feel overwhelmed. Get as much help and support as you can. It is very important that you take care of yourself too. Your family doctor can offer advice and support as can your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Try to meet people in a similar situation to yourself. Their advice and suggestions can be very important when you are finding it difficult to navigate through your new role as caregiver.
I'll have to give up work
People in the early stages of Alzheimer’s can often look after themselves with very little support. Even when they need increased supervision there are other options, for example In-home caregivers, Day Care and Respite Care.
I might catch dementia
It is not known what causes Alzheimer’s although there are some good theories. One thing we do know is that you cannot catch Alzheimer’s like you can flu or other infectious diseases. Here is more information about the causes of Alzheimer’s
Our intimacy will have to stop
It is possible for couples to maintain their physical relationship so long as they both appear content for this to happen. Every individual with dementia is different, sexual behavior can vary from person to person. Some individuals may lose their desire for sexual activity, whereas others can have heightened desires.
More Information on How Alzheimer’s Affects Sexual Behavior
More Information on Just Diagnosed with Alzheimer's