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A Loved One Has Been Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease: Now What?
Posted By alz02 On January 4, 2011 @ 3:55 am In ALZ Guide,Ask The Experts,Caregiving,PYM | No Comments
By: www.ALZinfo.org 
When your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, many questions come to mind. First is the question “Is there a cure?” Unfortunately, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, there are drugs that may improve or stabilize symptoms. In addition, there are care strategies that may minimize or prevent behavioral problems. Learning more about these treatments and knowing what questions to ask your care recipient’s doctor can help you through this difficult and confusing time.
New drugs are under development that offer hope for Alzheimer’s patients, and clinical trials test whether these treatments are safe and effective. Your loved one’s physician will give you more information about treatment options and clinical trials that may be right for your loved one. You can also find out more on the Internet. The resources listed in this article are a great place to start.
Coping with Caregiving--
Take a minute. Sit down. As a family caregiver of someone with Alzheimer’s disease, you have a lot on your plate. There’s so much to learn about, so much to plan, so much to worry about. But you need to read this guide—not only for the person you’re caring for, but for yourself.
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is a stressful job. It’s an emotional roller coaster of love, hope, anger, guilt, loneliness, and sadness. You will have to make tough decisions and consider questions you’ve never thought about before: What are my responsibilities toward my parent? How can I take Mom or Dad out of their home of 50 years? What does it mean to be in a marriage “in sickness and in health”? How can I balance my relationship with my loved one with the other relationships in my life?
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s changes your life. In fact, caring for someone with a dementing disease such as Alzheimer’s is typically more stressful than caring for someone with only a physical impairment. Many family caregivers—up to 47 percent, according to one study—experience depression. And many caregivers become overwhelmed by the strain of caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease and experience stress, illness, sleep deprivation, premature aging, and depression. In fact, a study of caregiver health revealed that elderly spousal caregivers who experienced caregiver strain had a mortality risk that was 63 percent higher than that of control subjects. You will need help keeping yourself whole as your loved one needs more and more from you.
But you are not alone. Help is available—right in your own community. Keep reading about some of the issues you will face as a caregiver and where you can find help.
10 Signs of Caregiver Stress--
Be aware of the Alzheimer’s Association’s “10 Signs of Caregiver Stress,” and talk to your own physician if you experience any of these:
Forming Your Support Network--
There are many people and resources out there that can help you through this difficult time. They include family and friends, support groups, in-home nursing care, day centers, health care providers, and residential facilities. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to find the right combination of people and services to be your support network. Don’t get discouraged. Be sure to reach out and talk with others who know what you are going through and who have “walked in your shoes.” You don’t have to do it alone.
Start to create your support network list by learning about the organizations and resources below. For a more comprehensive list, visit the Alliance for Aging Research .
Physicians and Health Care Providers:
National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, Inc. 
(520) 881-8008, A professional Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) is a health and human services specialist who helps families who are caring for older relatives. The GCM is trained and experienced in any of several fields related to care management, including nursing, gerontology, social work, or psychology.
Respite Care Services:
Eldercare Locator 
(800) 677-1116, The Eldercare Locator, a public service of the Administration on Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is a nationwide service that connects older Americans and their caregivers with information on senior services. The goal is to provide users with the information and resources that will help older persons live independently and safely in their homes and communities for as long as possible.
Support Groups for Caregivers:
ElderCare Online 
ElderCare Online is a beacon for people caring for aging loved ones. Whether you are caring for a spouse, parent, relative or neighbor, we are committed to providing an online community where supportive peers and professionals help you improve quality of life for yourself and your elder.
National Family Caregivers Association 
(800) 896-3650, The National Family Caregivers Association educates, supports, empowers and speaks up for the more than 65 million Americans who care for loved ones with a chronic illness or disability or the frailties of old age. NFCA reaches across the boundaries of diagnoses, relationships and life stages to help transform family caregivers' lives by removing barriers to health and well being.
This online support site provided by the Fisher Center Foundation, provides a fun, personalizable environment for families, friends, and medical professionals to post messages, pictures, and favorite links, and it gives users the ability to stay connected with those in the Alzheimer’s community.
Tips for Family Caregivers from Doctors
There is much to be gained by improving communication between family caregivers and health care professionals—especially physicians. Positive outcomes include: better care for the patient, less stress and illness for the caregiver, more efficient use of doctors’ time, reduced costs for the health care system, and more satisfaction for all concerned. Here are some tips on communicating with your loved one’s doctor:
This article was excerpted, in part, from “Resources for Caregivers, Alzheimer’s Disease: Helping Yourself Help a Loved One,” a brochure produced by the Alliance for Aging Research  and the National Family Caregivers Association .
Source: www.ALZinfo.org . Preserving Your Memory: The Magazine of Health and Hope ; Winter 2007.
Article printed from ALZinfo.org: http://www.alzinfo.org
URL to article: http://www.alzinfo.org/01/pym/ask-the-experts/loved-diagnosed-alzheimers-disease-what
URLs in this post:
 www.ALZinfo.org: http://www.ALZinfo.org
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 Alliance for Aging Research: http://www.agingresearch.org
 National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, Inc.: http://www.caremanager.org
 Eldercare Locator: http://www.eldercare.gov
 ElderCare Online: http://www.ec-online.net
 National Family Caregivers Association: http://www.thefamilycaregiver.org
 ALZTalk.org: http://www.alztalk.org
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 www.ALZinfo.org: http://www.alzinfo.org
 Preserving Your Memory: The Magazine of Health and Hope: http://www.alzinfo.org/preserving-your-memory-magazine
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