Five Questions Families Ask About Alzheimer’s Caregiving

Kathleen Allen, LCSW, C-ASWCM

Senior Care Management Services, LLC

  • Expert Advice
Published on:
An Alzheimer's caregiver talking with a geriatric care manager.

Read answers to five common questions caregivers ask about Alzheimer’s disease caregiving.

As someone who works with families of older adults, including adults with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, I hear many of the same questions from one family to the next. “How does this happen? What will it mean? How do we go about caring for someone with Alzheimer’s?” These are questions understandably on people’s minds. There are many more. Five common questions are below.

  1. Will Our Loved One Have to Go to a Nursing Home?

    Not necessarily. There are multiple factors that determine whether one should be placed in a nursing home. The availability of family caregivers, finances, and skilled or personal care needs are a just a few factors.

    It is said, “when you’ve met one person with Alzheimer’s, you’ve met one person with Alzheimer’s.” This statement applies to the nursing home question too, which will vary depending on the individual involved. Later in the Alzheimer’s disease process, there may be a way to keep the person home or in a less restrictive environment than that of a nursing home.  That might be an Alzheimer’s care home, a memory care facility, or a secure unit for persons with dementia.

    One place to start when researching the long-term care options in your community is the Eldercare Locator.
  2. Why is Our Loved One Refusing to Take a Shower When They were Always so Concerned about Their Personal Appearance?

    Alzheimer’s affects each person in different ways. Sometimes, a person whose baseline personality is more gregarious can be more subdued with the disease. Challenging behaviors are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s. There is no predicting it. A shower for one with Alzheimer’s may become a frightening event, for reasons unknown to the caregiver. When personal care becomes a struggle, it is useful to try other approaches, and to keep trying until you find one that works. The following article provides some helpful tips for assisting your loved one with showering and bathing.
  3. Don’t People Get Alzheimer’s Disease Only When They are Much Older Than 50?

    It is estimated that between 220,000 and 640,000 people, ages 45 - 64 in the U.S., are affected by early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Read more about the differences between the early- and late-onset forms of Alzheimer’s in Dr. James Ellison’s article, “Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease.”

  4. Do the Medications Prescribed for Alzheimer's Help?

    Currently there is not a medication that cures or reverses Alzheimer’s. However, some people have some success, for a while, using some medications for reducing symptoms. There is a three-part series on the “Challenging Behaviors of Alzheimer’s” that speaks to the medication approach, but it is also important for caregivers to learn the behavioral approaches to managing the challenging behaviors that confront  Alzheimer’s caregiving.

  5. How Do I Continue to Live My Life in Spite of My Loved One Having this Disease?

    You are the best person to answer this question. It is possible. Find support for you and your loved one. It might be part-time caregivers to give you a break, and/or a caregiver support group to have a place to share your thoughts and concerns, as well as to learn from others going through the same things.  You might enroll your loved one in a local adult day center to give them the socialization they need, and you the ability to continue your job or other pursuits. These are just a few of the options. Depending on where you live, there may be others. It is best to research the local resources for aging adults, and specifically those resources on Alzheimer’s and other dementia. 

Alzheimer’s caregiving resources are getting better and more available every day. Keep asking questions. Keep giving yourself the time you need. There is support out there.

About the author

Headshot of Kathleen Allen.

Kathleen Allen, LCSW, C-ASWCM

Senior Care Management Services, LLC

Kathleen Allen has been working with older adults and their families for over 20 years.

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