The Role Family Plays in the Treatment of Alzheimer's Patients

In today's article, we want to talk about the important role that family plays in the treatment of Alzheimer's patients.
The Role Family Plays in the Treatment of Alzheimer's Patients

Last update: 29 December, 2020

The role that family plays in the treatment of Alzheimer’s patients can be quite complicated. It’s a disease that doesn’t only affect patients themselves, but their family members as well. It can cause rejection, irritability, and the inability to accept the reality that comes with it.

Unfortunately, there’s still a great deal of social stigma around mental illnesses today. Therefore, a favorable family environment is essential to the mental health of the patient and those around them. What do families need to take into account? We’ll go over some recommendations below.

Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. Thus, it’s a neurodegenerative disease where a person’s mental faculties progressively deteriorate, causing serious behavioral disorders. It’s characterized by:

  • Loss of memory
  • Alterations in language
  • Loss of sense of orientation
  • Difficulties in planning tasks or solving daily problems

This cognitive deterioration is usually accompanied by changes in personality and behavior. In addition, the person’s ability to be autonomous and carry out the activities of daily life is diminished. In fact, in the most advanced stages of the disease, they’ll need almost constant help and care.

Unfortunately, there’s currently no effective treatment that can help reverse or completely stop the course of the disease. However, there are palliative drug treatments that help reduce the intensity of some symptoms.

Non-pharmacological therapy and the family and professional support are just as important as the pharmacological treatment. These should be based on the stimulation of cognitive capacities and avoiding isolation to improve the mental health of patients.

According to the U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information, some of these strategies could improve people’s cognitive performance and thus increase their independence.

The role that family plays in the treatment of Alzheimer’s patients

A family visiting a family member with Alzheimers that's lying in bed.
The role that family plays in the treatment of patients with Alzheimer’s is very important.

It’s fairly evident that the role that family plays in the treatment of Alzheimer’s is a fundamental pillar in managing this disease. Thus, the attitude that a family maintains towards the patient will directly influence the way in which the patient accepts their disease.

A loving, serene, proactive, and collaborative attitude with the medical and therapeutic team by the family is vital as a point of reference for the patient and to transmit confidence.

So, how do we achieve this? To do this, it’s best to establish a routine that allows the patient to organize their daily activities. Below, we’ll provide more details.

The family environment and the treatment of Alzheimer’s

The role family plays in the treatment of Alzheimer’s is crucial. Having daily order and following certain guidelines can help us manage the situation. Below are some recommendations:

  • Establishing routines can be very helpful. This is because if the patient performs automated actions on a daily basis, they can feel more independent. For example, always respect a schedule of dinner and a bath before going to bed.
  • Establishing direct communication, avoiding very complex phrases, looking the person in the eye and staying calm can help the patient feel more understood.
  • Help them and find ways for them to participate in activities. Don’t treat them like little children. Even though they may have difficulty developing basic skills, try to give them their own independence as much as possible.
  • Be patient. Don’t take their mistakes or insults personally, they’re a product of the disease.
  • Stay calm and don’t argue with the patient. It won’t get you anywhere and it will only cause more frustration for both of you.
  • Show affection and empathy. Put yourself in their place.
  • Help them keep their minds active at all times by doing activities that stimulate their cognitive capacities.

However, even if we take all these aspects into account, families can feel quite overwhelmed. It’s also fundamental that the family members who take care of a person with Alzheimer’s disease know and are aware that they must also take care of themselves and get necessary help. For example, some of the measures you can take are the following:

  • Finding support in the people you trust around you
  • Talking to your friends about how you feel and how the family member’s illness affects you
  • Giving yourself space and time off

In order to care for someone, it’s important that the caregivers themselves are healthy.

Support for Alzheimer’s patients and family members

A woman with Alzheimer's holding the hands of a relative.
Both patients and families require support to meet the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease.

The demand for the care of dependent people has increased considerably in recent years. Factors such as the aging of the population or changes in the family model determine this trend.

The good news is that there are many organizations that work to help patients with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. At the same time, many offer direct care, while others carry on research regarding prevention and treatment.

So, what’s the role that family plays in the treatment of Alzheimer’s patients? Remember that being empathetic and also thinking about the way you’d like to be treated can help you deal with the situation.

At the same time, it’s also very important that you take care of yourself. That’s because good mental and physical health is vital to supporting your family member. So, look for support from specialized centers and professionals to improve your quality of life and the quality of life of your family member.

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