Alzheimer’s is one of the most strenuous and exhausting illnesses one may experience in their life. It is the most common form of dementia. It is defined as a decrease in behavioral and social skills, impacting daily functioning and relationships with family and friends. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are intensified with age, and the average lifespan of a person with Alzheimer’s is four to eight years. Still, some may live past twenty years, depending on factors and determinants. 

When Alzheimer’s disease creeps into the life of a loved one, the impact it has on the community they are a part of can become stressful and taxing. The many changes throughout the journey can impact caregivers’ and family members’ physical and mental health and the people’s welfare. Due to this, it is essential to understand the ways to navigate the journey and ensure the best for you, your loved one, and your family. 

What are the Common Changes that may Affect Dynamics?

There will be many changes and departures that will interfere with everyday life, such as:

  • Elevated stress. 

The psychological and emotional toll that comes with taking care of a person leads to unhealthy stress that may impact a person’s physical or mental health. Unhealthy stress can lead to depression, anxiety, cardiovascular diseases, eating disorders, and high blood pressure. The stress may also bleed into family members’ lives due to the never-ending uncertainty, growing conflicts, and disagreements regarding the state of the loved one.

  • Social isolation. 

Because the caregiver dedicates themself to the caring of the family member with Alzheimer’s, they shift priorities to their loved one, leading to decreased ambition toward their pursuits and ambitions and low social and personal time. 

  • Financial challenges. 

The financial challenges that Alzheimer’s will present, such as diagnostic tests and general healthcare, can lead to financial issues and loss of profit for the caregiver.  

  • Disagreements.

Familial conflict may ensue due to family members disagreeing on the best methods to care for the loved one. To avoid this, communicate and sort conflicts by understanding the person’s viewpoint and compromising with them. 

How to Navigate Family Dynamics:

Due to the obstacles that may occur and to cope with the many changes, caregivers and families must journey with open-mindedness, communication, and love. To help with the obstacles and the differences, keep in mind the following.

  • Ask for help from others and share responsibilities. 

If assistance is needed, ask for help. List down the roles and responsibilities and assign them to family members capable and willing to do it. One may help with daily activities and household chores and help with financial issues and money. Let others aid you. There is no shame in asking for help.

  • Communication is key. 

To avoid conflicts with family members, communicate effectively with others, and be honest with your feelings to avoid misunderstandings. Do not blame or criticize their viewpoint but understand and form a mutual partnership to work efficiently. Ensure that everybody sees eye-to-eye and is willing to agree with significant decisions to stir conflict and animosity. 

  • Take time to adjust.

Because of the sudden changes caused by Alzheimer’s, it takes time to process the news and its impact on the family. Every case of Alzheimer’s will be different for the family, and everybody may contemplate the issue uniquely, so let them have time to prepare for the journey ahead of them. 

  • Meet regularly.

Meeting regularly will help communicate the needs, wants, and worries of everybody involved. This is the time to address concerns, create agendas, and seek public advice regarding decisions. Ensure that everybody in the room understands the agreements decided upon during the meetings to clear any misunderstandings.  

  • Seek support and consider seeing a mental health professional.

Although it may seem unnecessary, seek support. Do family therapy or join a support group for caregivers taking care of people with Alzheimer’s. Another suggestion is to read books about people struggling with Alzheimer’s, such as Jack Weaver’s book about Alzheimer’s disease. Understand that your health is as vital as the person you are taking care of. You are a priority, even in hard times like these.  

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