Important Decisions in Elder Care When Dementia Strikes


by: Erica Ronchetti

It's estimated there are 24 million individuals living with some form of dementia worldwide-this number is expected to increase to as many as 85 million by the year 2040 if there is no medical breakthrough for age-related memory loss.

Alzheimer's is the most common and well-known form of dementia with more than 5 million Americans suffering from age-related memory loss.Alzheimer's disease is the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S.-approximately 13% of Americans 65 and older have Alzheimer's disease, and half or more of individuals 85 and older will develop Alzheimer's or similar forms of dementia. The two contributing factors to dementia are aging and genetics, and neither can be controlled. The best approach to proactive brain health is a healthy lifestyle.

Many family caregivers who provide care and support for parents, spouses, and loved ones suffering from dementia face challenges due to this progressive and debilitating disease.In many cases, the loved one receiving care may not acknowledge or appreciate the care and become confused, angry, and abusive.Care providers often have a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that their loved ones eventually may not recognize them or their families.

Research shows that caregivers of family members and loved ones with dementia are under a lot of stress because of:

  • The long-term period of care required to care for dementia patients.
  • Cognitive and behavioral problems associated with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.
  • Severity of patient impairment at the end-stages of dementia.

The challenge of providing care for a loved one can become overwhelming and family caregivers experience frustration, stress, anger, and sometimes depression.It can be difficult to balance elder care giving with everything going on in life, including caring for children, spending time with your spouse, and personal time.It's important that caregivers of dementia patients carefully consider their ability to deal with the challenges they face caring for their loved one and seek assistance if necessary.Have a conversation with your loved one to understand his or her wishes before making any decisions regarding care.

To provide your loved one, relative, or parent suffering from dementia proper care:

Take the time to read up on the disease, how it affects people, and learn how it progresses over time.The more you understand the disease, the more patience and understanding you'll have of your loved one's medical condition.

Don't correct your loved one - ask them simple questions even regarding their false or strange statements. Both you and your relative will experience less frustration. Encourage your loved one to be as independent as possible, but step in when necessary so safety and well-being is not compromised.

Don't hesitate to seek elder care support.In many cases, you may find yourself running errands, doing shopping, taking your loved one to doctors appointments, cleaning house, and preparing meals as opposed to actually spending quality time with him or her. A professional caregiver or elder care provider can take care of everyday tasks and assist your loved one with activities of daily living when necessary so you can enjoy quality time with them.

Your elder care provider can also strategize with you how to make your loved one the most comfortable and encourage patient comfort and reduce agitation or anxiety. This includes street noise, other loud noises, and other environmental distractions.

Experienced elder care providers are available 24 hours a day to allow elderly individuals to remain in their own home, provide respite for you, and improve the quality of their lives with joyful companionship, meal preparation, diet monitoring services, errands and shopping, and may other services, Learn more about how an individualized elderly care program to improve the life and health of your loved one.

Erica Ronchetti is a freelance writer for Visiting Angels, the nation's leading, network of non-medical, private duty home care agencies providing senior care, elder care, Assisted Living facilities, respite care and companion care to help the elderly and adults continue to live in their homes across America. Visit the Visiting Angels website to find out more information on elder care programs.


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