Major life events are bound to happen through time. When faced with a significant change or challenge, how do you cope? Each person has their way of dealing with distress, especially with a diagnosis as life-changing as Alzheimer’s disease. It is good to be able to cope on our own.
But, it is also vital to know when to seek help.
Facing The Changes To Come
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative neurologic condition where brain cells gradually die. To this day, there is still no known cure for the disease. We can expect progressive memory loss, but this does not mean the quality of life must also decline. There are ways to slow down its progression, and most of all, cope with the condition.
To face the changes bound to come, you must be well-prepared. You can expect moments of repeated conversations, questions, and statements.
A person with Alzheimer’s is likely to forget the simplest of appointments to the most meaningful information, such as names. Items around the house may frequently get lost. Eventually, the person may lose their way when they go out.
These are classic hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. It can be life-changing, not only for the patient but their loved ones as well. It is a journey requiring physical, mental, and emotional resilience.
There will be points of making hard decisions and adjusting to non-negotiable changes. Good thing, there are different forms of help and counseling available along the way.
The Effects And Challenges of Alzheimer’s Disease
Patients, family members, and caregivers will all experience the effects and challenges caused by Alzheimer’s. The context and dynamics between the people involved will determine the impact of these changes. Here are some signs it may be time to seek the help of a counselor.
- Difficulty Recognizing Changes Caused By Alzheimer’s
People with Alzheimer’s may not always be aware of their condition. They may forget their diagnosis later on. It is also typical to cope with denial, especially in the early stages. A counselor may help in recognizing the changes and problems. Awareness is the first step in finding a solution and adapting to change.
It is also time to talk to a counselor if the patient or family needs help in making decisions. Impaired judgment is an effect of Alzheimer’s, so patients may need guidance and counseling in making or accepting choices. Family members may also find it hard to make life-changing decisions, such as considering a nursing home.
- Heavy Impact On Everyday Life
When dealing with the impact on daily life becomes overwhelming, you might want to talk to a counselor. People with Alzheimer’s are likely to have trouble performing daily tasks which were once familiar.
There will be changes in sleeping habits and routine, and things may not be the way they used to be. A counselor will help the patient and family cope with these changes.
Other factors may also affect everyday life, such as the comorbidities of the condition. Patients are predisposed to developing depression along with Alzheimer’s. Mental health issues like these will need the help of a counselor.
- Breakdown In Communication
Family members may feel like they are slowly losing their loved one to Alzheimer’s. Eventually, communication may become difficult because of repeated statements.
The patient may also find it hard to express themselves with a loss for words. It then leads to a breakdown in communication within the home. A counselor may help facilitate understanding in the home environment.
Another reason for a communication breakdown is when a patient develops social withdrawal and apathy. They may become distrustful towards others, even spouses or children. A counselor may help family members find ways to communicate with their loved ones effectively.
- Strain In Social Relations
A drastic change in social participation could necessitate the help of a counselor. Remember to expect changes in personality and behavior.
A person with Alzheimer’s may frequently exhibit mood swings, irritability, aggression, and loss of controlling impulses/ inhibition. This can cause a change in the relationship between spouses, children, grandchildren, friends, and caregivers. What’s important is to keep the relationship healthy.
One effect of Alzheimer’s is having delusions. It may affect how patients perceive their relationships with others. They may eventually be unable to recognize their loved ones, and a counselor will help avoid possible strains in relationships.
- Issues With Role Patterns
There are different intervention strategies to help patients preserve their skills. The area of the brain responsible for performing skills we have learned in the past is usually affected last.
It means patients may still participate in activities they love to do, such as playing music, crocheting, and more. It gives them a sense of purpose, but it is time to talk to a counselor once they lose this.
People with Alzheimer’s have roles they value before the disease. It may be a wife, a mother, a professional, a member of the community, and more. Changes in roles within the family may also occur. Counselors help families realize their newfound roles with these changes.
What Happens When I Seek Counseling For Alzheimer’s?
There are several medical health professionals you may approach to help you deal with Alzheimer’s. Medical doctors such as geriatric physicians and psychiatrists can help you diagnose and determine which strategies you can do.
Meanwhile, psychologists, family therapists, social workers, and other professionals can help you with the more specific type of counseling.
Here are some of the techniques and strategies that medical and mental health professionals offer for people with Alzheimer’s:
- Individual Counseling
- Crisis Intervention Counseling
- Self-help and Support Groups
- Family Therapy
- Group Therapy
Benefits of Seeking Counseling
Seeking medical and psychological help can make a significant impact on the elderly’s mental and emotional capacities. Not only will it prevent their condition from getting worse, but they can also enjoy priceless benefits from counseling. Here are a few things on how counseling can help you and your loved one:
- Health Maintenance Education And Medical Care
Counseling offers education on what strategies and procedures you can do to prevent, maintain, and promote an elderly’s holistic health. It is hopeful for the elderly, their caregivers, and their families that there is still something they can do. With proper medical care, their lifestyles and diet can be modified to best suit their needs.
- Emotional Support
With counseling, everyone, including the elderly and the caregivers, can have fewer anxieties and burdens. Counseling can give you peace of mind that you are not alone in battling Alzheimer’s. Given the right programs and interventions, we can assure the quality of life for everyone.