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10 Tips for Caregivers
Caregiving Long Distance
Understanding Dementia
About Alzheimer’s Disease
Change Family Roles


10 Tips for Caregivers


Caregiving Long-Distance

Money – You should get the following if your parent cannot handle their money

Health – If your parent needs help with the house and their health

Other issues


Understanding Dementia

What is dementia? It is a generic term. It is used to describe symptoms of brain failure. It affects a person’s ability to do the following:

There are many causes of brain failure. The most common are the following three:

Alzheimer’s Disease

This is the most common cause of brain failure. The first sign is not being able to remember. The disease will eventually affect the following:

Physical changes to the brain include abnormal clumps which are found with this disease. Also found are tangled bundles of fibers. These are only seen in an autopsy. This diagnosis made in the living is only made when other things are ruled out.

Lewy Body Dementia

Physical changes found with this disease include tiny protein deposits. They are found in nerve cells that are getting worse. When these are found all over the brain, the symptoms look like Alzheimer’s disease. The difference is with thinking, attention and concentration. Also the visual spatial abilities are affected more than memory and language. It can cause the person to see things that are not there. It also can cause changes in degree of alertness. The same medicine can be used for both diseases.

Vascular Dementia

This is a problem with the arteries that supply blood to the brain. It is also from a stroke that causes a loss of blood flow to the brain. The onset of symptoms can come on fast or sometimes they can progress slowly. This makes it difficult to tell this disease from Alzheimer’s disease.

Common symptoms are problems with the following:

Treating diseases that cause strokes, such as high blood pressure, can help.

Other Diseases that Affect Brain Cells and May Result in Progressive Dementia

Other causes of Dementia

Symptoms of Dementia


About Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain. Strange proteins add up and make the brain cells in charge of behavior, walking, and cognitive skills die. The loss of brain cells is linked with strange clumps of protein in the brain. These are called amyloid plaques. They are also called neurofibrillary tangles. There is also a lower level of brain chemicals that carry messages back and forth between nerve cells.

Alois Alzheimer first saw Alzheimer’s in 1906. People died at a much younger age then. Alzheimer’s was not seen a lot. Alzheimer’s disease is more noticeable today because people live longer. Most people who are 65 years and older may have some memory loss. This is considered a normal part of aging.

What is the difference between normal memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease? There is no test that can give a true answer to this question. There are different degrees of memory loss. It’s normal to forget where you put your keys. The problem is when you forget what the keys are used for. You may hear older adults complain about their forgetfulness. You may see that it is happening a lot. A person may have constant memory loss but no problem thinking. They may have something called ‘mild cognitive impairment’. Many people can live on their own. Most see the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

The first sign of Alzheimer’s disease is forgetfulness. It will affect language, behavior, reasoning and understanding. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. A doctor can do a test called the Mini Mental Status Exam. This test checks a person’s orientation, recall, language, and attention. Tests such as a MRI or PET scan can rule out the chance of stroke. Other diseases are ruled out by lab tests. These tests can help find out if Alzheimer’s may be the cause for the person’s memory loss. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. There are just treatments. Currently there are several pills that work to slow down the disease.

Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

Doctors will try to figure out which stage of the disease Alzheimer patients are in. The following is a list of signs that are seen in different stages:

Stage 1: Mild Alzheimer’s disease (lasts 2-4 years)

Stage 2: Moderate Alzheimer’s disease (lasts 2-10 years)

Stage 3: Severe Alzheimer’s disease (lasts 1-3 years)


Changing Family Roles

Family duties often change when a family member is disabled

Parents may need to take care of their disabled child for a very long time. A son or daughter may become the caretaker for a disabled parent. These role changes may be hard to accept. The roles change in some ways, but not in other ways. This can lead to confusion about what your role is.

The disabled family member may become the center of attention

A great deal of energy and attention is given to the disabled person. Other family members can feel left out. Chores must often be shifted to others. They may begin feeling resentful. Major changes can cause some family members to cut family ties. It can cause divorce.

Different family members will respond in different ways

There is no one correct or right response. Some family members will not be helpful at all. It’s because they cannot cope with what is happening. Some people have reported that their families experience a new kind of closeness. Some people find strength that they never knew they had.

Tips for coping with role changes

In order to cope with your family’s changing roles and duties you might try the following: