We often read about how Alzheimer’s impacts a sufferer’s entire family, and especially caregivers.
However, what about the effects of Alzheimer’s on the person dealing with it? In particular, what about the damage to their psychological and emotional well-being? These damages are not trivial.
As a senior gradually goes through the progression of this disease, Alzheimer’s makes it harder and harder for them to remember information. In turn, that leads to difficulties with learning new things. And, as the effects get worse, that can even make it tough to communicate.
Not only do these effects of Alzheimer’s make it challenging for a senior to care for themselves, but those negative changes can also cause shifts in mood, personality, and even physical well-being. Obviously, there’s more to Alzheimer’s than simply having problems with memory.
Hence, what are some of the emotional and mental effects of Alzheimer’s on an elderly person?
Many seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s are at risk for developing depression. When you think about it, it’s easy to feel depressed as you realize your memory is fading away and you can’t do some of the things you used to be able to do.
Some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and depression are similar, including:
- Sadness or feeling numb
- Feeling worthless
- Lack of interest in things you used to enjoy doing
- Trouble focusing or remembering
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
Unfortunately, these feelings of depression as a result of Alzheimer’s can lead to other, more chronic, psychological and emotional issues.
Aggression and Irritability
It’s not uncommon for seniors who are suffering from Alzheimer’s to go through mood swings. However, some of these mood swings can last longer and can actually cause a dramatic personality shift.
Of course, this can be hard on family and friends of the individual, but it can also be very scary and unsettling for the person going through it.
For example, the effects of Alzheimer’s can cause someone who was once easy going with a pleasant demeanor to change their outlook on life. And, suddenly, they may see things from a completely negative standpoint. They may even have emotional and angry outbursts.
As a result, they can become withdrawn from family members, friends, and even caregivers.
Moreover, many Alzheimer’s patients begin to feel guilty about their condition and, therefore, they push people away. As you might expect, this isolation is damaging to their own emotional health and sense of self-worth.
Treating Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s is often treated through a combination of medication and therapy. Though, the Alzheimer’s Association and Mayo Clinic both strongly recommend non-drug options as a first resort.
What can you do to help your loved one manage the effects of Alzheimer’s?
Personal Coping Skills
You can use different coping tips to help your loved one deal with the progression of this disease. Creating the right environment will help them to feel more comfortable and secure, which may help to lessen the severity of some of the more serious symptoms.
Some tips to keep in mind include:
- Create a familiar and comfortable environment
- Don’t be confrontational or argumentative
- Give the individual a “security” object
- Give them time to rest before any type of stimulating event
- Don’t take their behavior personally
If you have a senior loved one in your life who is going through any of the stages of this disease, it’s important to do what you can to make them comfortable and meet their needs.
First, you must understand that there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. Second, there also is no way to slow its progression.
However, certain therapies can help to improve the quality of life of the sufferer and also make the situation a bit easier for everyone involved.
Therapy for Alzheimer’s disease focuses mostly on behavior, and not necessarily on memory. It helps with managing behavioral symptoms like emotional outbursts or waves of confusion.
If you’re struggling with how to cope during this difficult time, please feel free to contact us or learn more about our approach to Senior Therapy. Together, we can work on different ways of dealing with the effects of Alzheimer’s and what you can expect from the senior in your life as the disease progresses.