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Alzheimer's: The Present and the Future

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Taking care of someone with Alzheimer's Disease can be a demanding task. It requires time and energy. Even if you are young and in good health, giving care can be difficult.

If you want to continue to give care, it is essential that you look after yourself. Many caregivers suffer health problems as a result of the intense demands on them of looking after someone.

Your body will let you know when you are working too hard or feeling too much stress. There will be signs. For example, you may notice that you are more easily upset, feel on edge, get angry or cry more easily. You may sometimes feel that you just can't cope. You may have tense or sore muscles, stomachaches, headaches or problems sleeping. You may be much more tired or get more colds than usual. Realize that you are smoking, eating or drinking more. You are less able to concentrate. Simple tasks take longer.

It is important to realize that caring for someone takes time and energy. There will be limits to what you can do. You will have to decide which things are most important to you. Which do you value most? A walk with the person you are caring for, time by yourself, activities you have always enjoyed with others or a clean and tidy house? There is no "right" answer to this question; only you know what matters most to you at any particular time. Besides making choices, you will have to set limits on what you do in a day. It may be difficult to admit that you can't do everything. It is not easy to say "no." To be realistic, you will need to think carefully about how much you can do.

The Future

  • As soon as you start caring for a person with Alzheimer Disease you need to plan for the immediate future and consider what is ahead for both of you. Include family members and the person, if possible, in your planning. 
  • Over the course of the disease, your needs and abilities will change, just like the person's do. 
  • There may come a time when you can no longer provide care in your home. The person may need to be cared for in a long-term care facility such as a nursing home. 
  • There are no rules to say if and when this will happen, but it is helpful to recognize that it may. As a caregiver you should not view this move as a sign of failure. 
  • It should be seen as a stage in the overall progression of the disease. A long-term care facility is one more service available to you as a caregiver. 
  • You are important! What you are doing is vital. Take care of yourself.
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