Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease in which the condition worsens over time. As more parts of the brain are being damaged, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease become more severe. Patients experience frustration and grief as they struggle with gradual loss of function and fading memory. Their family members grieve as well, as they observe their loved ones losing their abilities, personality and function. Anger, confusion, sadness and depression are common reactions in families experiencing anticipatory grief.
Being an Alzheimer’s caregiver takes energy and courage. As the patient’s mental abilities decreases, the caregiver’s responsibility increases. Thus, the caring for a patient with Alzheimer’s disease could become increasingly difficult and stressful over time. Many Alzheimer’s disease caregivers experience intense stress as they struggle to understand the patient’s behavioural changes and determine what interventions will work for the problems that arise each day. This stressful task can have a detrimental effect on the caregiver’s emotional, social and physical well-being.
One possible way that the caregiver could reduce the stress of caregiving and cope with the task more effectively is to develop skills in caregiving. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses and the behavior of the patient become more complex, caregivers need to understand the patient’s changing behaviors and learn techniques to manage the behavioural difficulties. Thus, it is particularly important that the caregiver acquire knowledge about the Alzheimer’s disease and its progression, skills and strategies for managing the challenges, and information on the available resources to turn to when the need arises. This is even more essential if the caregiver is new to the task. If a new caregiver has totally no knowledge of Alzheimer’s disease and is greatly lacking in coping skills, the task of caregiving is even more difficult.
Along the way, as the caregiver encounter more and more unexpected new challenges, the caregiver will definitely feel overwhelmed by these problems. The stress experienced by the caregiver would certainly be greater and could result in a detrimental effect on the caregiver’s well-being, which in turn could result in an adverse impact on the patient’s situation.
It is also important to note that every patient deserves the highest standard of care possible and an equipped caregiver is more able to provide the high standard of care required for the patient. At times, although an elderly person with severe impairment in memory and mental function may need to be communicated with at the primary functioning level of a small child, but he or she also needs, and has a right to be respected as an adult. A trained caregiver would learn the communication skills required to interact with the patient and be more equipped to provide proper care for the patient. Hence, training is necessary for the caregiver to acquire the appropriate skills needed for the job and enable the caregiver to provide the standard of care required. The patient will benefit from the quality of care provided.
Thus, the importance of developing skills in caregiving should not be overlooked. It would certainly help the caregiver to cope with the task and reduce the stress of caregiving. At the same time, the caregiver will be able to provide the standard of care required and the patient will benefit from it. Furthermore, if caregivers find that their approaches are effective, they will gain confidence and increased satisfaction doing the task. In this way, hopefully, caregivers would end up finding meaning and purpose in the difficult task of caregiving instead of finding the task a daunting one.
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