by: Julia Henry

As time passes by in life from birth, growing up, going to school, going to college, getting a job, and planning life, individuals usually only think about the things that are most important at that time. For some reason they do not think further into the future. They sometimes refuse to think about the possibilities of life. From many life experiences, I can conclude that many people do not like to think about their life beyond the ages where they might not be physically able to take care of themselves.

There is a degenerative disease that can take effect on the middle aged or elderly population. The disease can begin with small occurrences of forgetfulness or confusion. This degenerative disease is called Alzheimer’s or Dementia disease.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive mental deterioration that can occur in people that are middle or old aged. The disease is due to a generalized degeneration of the brain. It is the most common cause of premature senility.

Dementia is a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental process caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorder, personality changes, and impaired reasoning. Alzheimer’s and Dementia goes together to create the disease called Alzheimer’s disease. It is a progressive degenerative disorder that attacks the brain cells. The result of the vicious attack is memory loss, loss of language skills, loss of the ability to think, and changes in one’s behavior.

Being a caregiver to Alzheimer’s patients, I have lived, watched, and learned about the disease. I know that there is so much more to learn due to the fact that the disease attacks every individual differently. Seeing individuals go from being in an independent stage of life and then gradually moving to a stage where assistance is needed is very saddening. Before you know it, they are being forced to live with Alzheimer’s disease. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. There is only medicine that can slow down the process.

When diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the client and their family will go into denial, guilt, grief and loss, and even anger.  As a caregiver, while working with the individual patient on an independent level or assisted level, not having Alzheimer’s in mind will cause little mishaps to be overlooked.  The patient may have forgotten where he or she put her keys or that his or her sister visited the day before. So imagine families of the loved one with the disease. They would not want to accept the fact that their loved one has Alzheimer’s. They may take care of their loved one at home as long as they can before sending them out to live in a facility. The family may start to go through grief just thinking about the fact that they are going to lose their loved one due to Alzheimer’s disease. It is painful seeing the person who you loved for so many years, the person who took care of you and taught you the value of life, in such a confused state.

As a caregiver of Alzheimer’s disease patients, I now understand what the disease is and how to deal with taking care of the patient and their families who are around it?  Not only working as a caregiver, but being in nursing school at this present time, working towards my Licensed Vocational Nurse license, and learning more about the actual disease and how to identify it has made a big impact on my life. Reflecting on how passionate I was before I knew as much as I know now, I am sure that I will be able to cope with Alzheimer’s patients even better by the time I finish the nursing program. I will be visiting the Alzheimer’s disease on a much different level of education than I am right now. I will be able to educate the family members and the patient better about Alzheimer’s Dementia disease.