Seniors and Alzheimers | December 22, 2015
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, invariable disease of the brain that eventually leaves the patient unable to perform even the most basic of tasks. Patients can live upwards of 20 years with the disease, but the average length is 8 years1. As the disease slowly attacks the patient’s memory and thinking skills, their dependence on caregivers becomes greater and greater. Spouses are more often then not, the first person to fill the caretaker role, and according to a Finnish study, spousal caregivers, especially ones with a previous history of depression, experience the highest level of caregiver stress2.
As reported by a Reuters article, “caregiving appeared to be much more stressful for people who were married to the patients or who suffered from depression when the study began. Even minor depressive symptoms at the beginning of caregiving are a significant predictor of psychological distress during the years of caregiving.” Not surprisingly the longer the ailing spouse required assistance, the more stress the spousal caretaker experienced.
These findings reflect the need for spousal caregiver support during the caregiving years. Doctors should consider not only the Alzheimer’s patient, but also the spouse when devising a care and treatment plan, especially when the spouse is the sole, if not the main, caretaker. It is advisable to create a caregiving plan as soon as possible to address the demanding needs of caring for an Alzheimer’s patient and to control or at least the limit the chances of spousal burnout and depression during the course of the disease.
Bringing in outside help gives spouses and other non-paid caretakers a break from the daily demands of assisting Alzheimers and dementia patients. Many companies, such as Comfort Keepers of Canada, provide products and services created specifically for those needing assistance with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. These caregivers are trained to specifically handle Alzheimer’s and dementia cases, specifically knowing how the diseases affect behavior and that diseases affect and progress differently in each patient.
By bringing in outside help, caregivers can take a step back knowing their loved one is in good hands. In-home care companies like Comfort Keepers are great options for caregivers needing extra support to ease the stress related to caring for a senior or elderly loved one.
For additional information on Comfort Keepers of Canada® at Toronto or any other Comfort Keepers of Canada® location please visit our home page or call us at 416-663-2930.