As we age, our bodies make compromises. Although the changes to the body are more apparent, the way the brain functions is also subject to change with aging.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, every 65 seconds, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and in the Acadiana area, there are about 20,000 individuals diagnosed. The Alzheimer’s Services of Acadiana Inc. is a non-profit organization based out of New Iberia that specializes in supporting caregivers of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Tasha Dugas and Debra Savoie, co-founders of Alzehimer’s Services of Acadiana Inc., said its their mission to guide and educate caregivers through the trials that come when supporting loved ones afflicted with the disease.
When one is diagnosed, the Alzheimer’s Services of Acadiana Inc. gives caregivers packets filled with information about the disease, details about local services available to caregivers and finance worksheets to calculate the expenses of treatments. They also do hands-on work with Alzheimer’s patients and host monthly support group meetings for caregivers to discuss their journeys and find solutions to their problems.
Five Most Common Challenges Following a Diagnosis:
A common fear that arises is the loneliness of caring for a loved one who is suffering from the disease. Dugas and Savoie have multiple support groups in Acadiana for caregivers to confide and discuss what’s happening in their relationships with their loved ones. “I don’t do the talking. It’s their time to share their journey,” said Savoie.
Another obstacle of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is the financial burden. Dugas and Savoie said that when one is diagnosed, it is important to list all financial accounts and bills before the disease progresses. In their packets, they give legal and financial worksheets to fill out all possible streams of revenue, as well as directories to services and organizations that specialize in finances.
3. Caregiver Fatigue
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s means making sure medicine is taken on time, ensuring the person is fed, hydrated, safe and taking care of their hygiene. A way to help with the exhaustion that comes along with caregiving is to hire someone who is trained in taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s. “Because if you don't have someone taking care of that for them, they're going to decline,” said Dugas.
Irritability is another obstacle following a diagnosis. Dugas and Savoie said that agitation is caused by over stimulation, and discussing agitation with a doctor is the most important way to assure your loved one is being prescribed good medication and getting the right help. Savoie also suggests that going for a drive around town can help ease some anxiety or irritability that the loved one is experiencing.
5. Time Management
A common problem that caregivers have is overextending themselves and putting their social lives aside. Dugas said the best way to combat this is to make time out of every day for yourself and to take everything one day at a time. “It's maintaining your health and your sanity while you caring for someone, and getting along with them during the process,” said Dugas. “You’ve got to get the family involved. You need a support system. You can’t handle all of this by yourself,” said Savoie.