Alzheimer’s also takes a toll on the mental health of the primary caregiver. According to a report in The Atlantic, 8 out of 10 people who look after a relative suffer from anxiety and stress and 25 percent of dementia caregivers become hospitalized themselves.
Slideshow: Seven steps to Alzheimer’s-proof your home
Myth: There is a cure for Alzheimer’s disease or medications that can stop its progression
Fact: There is no medication to reverse Alzheimer’s disease and no cure. Researchers learn more about the disease every year, but the FDA-approved drugs available to Alzheimer’s patients only slow the progression of the memory loss and don’t stop it. The medications are effective for about 6 to 12 months in half of the people who take them.
There are ways to make day-to-day living more manageable for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Some of these strategies include establishing a daily routine, finding a support group for Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers, and considering respite care or a nursing home when caregiving becomes unmanageable.
Myth: Alzheimer’s disease is not fatal
Fact: Alzheimer’s disease has no survivors. Even with medication, Alzheimer’s will eventually destroy brain cells and cause memory changes, erratic behavior and loss of body function. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the fifth leading cause of death in Americans age 65 and over.
Alzheimer’s Association, (2012) 2012 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. March 2012; 8 131-168. Retrieved from Alzheimer’s Association website:http://www.alzheimersanddementia.com/article/S1552-5260%2812%2900032-5/abstract.
Villarica, H. (2012, April 19). How to care for your aging loved ones while still taking care of yourself. The Atlantic, Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/04/how-to-care-for-your-aging-loved-ones-while-still-taking-care-of-yourself/255782/