Alzheimer’s disease incapacitates an individual’s cognitive ability. Patients suffering from Alzheimer’s often become totally forgetful and thus cannot perform daily activities to support their life. Hence, they develop a dependency syndrome in everything they need. They largely depend on the moral and monetary support offered by caregivers and family members (Grossberg, 2008). Therefore, they create an extra task since they mainly require the presence of caregivers in society. These caregivers strive to understand the needs of the patients and remain ever-present to address their immediate inquiries regarding memory recaptures. Moreover, the associated memory losses greatly affect patients in various ways together with immediate individuals around them. Since the patients also lose memory and are not even aware of their suffering, they do not seem to burden by the challenge of the disease (Herrmann, Cappell, Eryavec & Lanctd, 2011). The burden is thus taken care of by caregivers. Hence, I believe that the assigned caregivers carry the emotional, psychological, physical and financial challenges of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
To begin with, it is psychologically disturbing for a caregiver who is handling a patient suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Through an understanding that the patient is not aware of reality due to cognitive disabilities, the caregiver assumes the responsibility of thinking on behalf of the patient. Most of the time, the caregiver is preoccupied with numerous questions about the patient. The caregiver’s mind thus becomes preoccupied all the time with unanswerable questions about the patient (Herrmann et al., 2011). When the caregiver happens to be an immediate family member, psychological torment heightens. Worries about what exactly happened to the patient to have changed from a person in the past to some kind of human in the present become undoubtedly disturbing. As a matter of fact, caregivers often find themselves in dilemmas as they try to connect between the needs of their patients and their personal abilities. This dilemma is well documented by Ignatieff (1999) in the article entitled deficits. The reality that the patients even forget their own family members is quite often psychologically perturbing to caregivers. In a similar case, as already mentioned, the situation worsens when another family member living apart makes a visit. Ignatieff (1999) attempts to describe how a parent who is also a patient at the same time stretches a hand to meet a family member as a stranger with a welcoming mood. Hence, caregivers become tormented in handling such situations when there is the presence of visiting family members.
Herrmann, et al. (2011) posit that Alzheimer’s disease and dementia-related to it are major distressing issues that pose substantial, financial, psychological, social and medical burdens on communities, families, patients and caregivers. It is worth noting that caring for patients with Alzheimer’s is both a financially and emotionally draining experience. The economic impact of paying for the cost of services, supplies and medical care for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s on both long and short term bases is substantial and prohibitively expensive.
Statistically, the cost of Alzheimer’s care for a patient in an assisted-living community per year is approximately $51,000 while in a nursing facility with a specific Alzheimer’s; the unit is $79,000 (Grossberg, 2008). This presents a major problem to families that cannot afford such hefty medical costs. On the same note, even those who can manage such bills still find it cumbersome to raise adequate financial resources to meet the expenses of medication, doctor’s appointments transportation, therapies and medical supplies. Worse still, hiring daycare services for adults with Alzheimer’s is even more expensive since it totals about $100 per day. Akpınar and Yener (2011) argue that the burden of caregiving and resultant financial demand often compel caregivers to visit their US tax returns to deduct the expenses.
It is imperative to note that in the United States of America, tax laws and policies have been made to lighten the burden that caregivers and patients have in treating Alzheimer’s (Herrmann et al., 2011). This is through tax credits, deductible expenses and financial assistance to cover a small portion of treatment. However, much of the care is still being paid for by patients’ families or private sources like caregivers. They posit that with this trend when the generation of baby booms will grow old, the cost of taking care of patients with the disease will escalate to higher levels.
Assessing the appropriateness and effectiveness of reducing the cost of providing care for patients with Alzheimer’s remains a major issue that needs to be addressed. Substantial and high costs of providing care for Alzheimer’s patients if not checked and appropriate assistance measures taken, the impact may affect the financial viability of caregivers, especially females, and reduce their ability to provide care (Akpınar & Yener, 2011). Additionally, medical interventions like genetic and therapeutic pharmacological need to be established.
Thirdly, an Alzheimer’s patient demands endless caregiver’s physical presence and duration of caregiving (Akpınar & Yener, 2011, Grossberg, 2008). From waking up to moving around the house, the patient requires attention and help in performing such tasks. Since memory loss among the affected patients leads to constant questioning tendencies, a caregiver’s physical presence is required to attend to such inquiries which may sometimes be the most obvious and basic. In addition, Alzheimer’s patients lose their awareness that some actions are destructive around the house and thus require a caregiver’s presence to attend to their immediate destructions around the house. In the story of deficits, Ignatieff illustrates how an Alzheimer’s patient (his mother) becomes destructive in the house while his father goes away to work (Ignatieff, 1999). A littered floor with porcelain pieces of cups and plates is evident of how a patient could be destructive and how these destructions need a physical presence of a caregiver to clear such immediate mess ups to prevent them from causing associated accidents or injuries. In this case, the floor had to be cleared to avoid further injuries (Grossberg, 2008).
In conclusion, it is evident that the burden of Alzheimer’s disease is often carried by caregivers in more than one dimension. A caregiver becomes psychologically tormented when attending to Alzheimer’s patient due to factors such thinking capacity of the patient, constant worries about the condition of the patient and frustrations in handling immediate family members in presence of the patient. Additionally, as shown by various statistics and other research, the financial burden incurred by caregivers in the processes is heavy. Lastly, the demanding physical presence of caregivers in attending patients is another burden. Furthermore, it is also profound to note that the process of cleaning up patients suffering from this ailment demands a lot of commitment from the respective caregivers. It is a task that requires resilience and passion.
Akpınar, B & Yener, S. (2011). Effects of gender on burden among caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients. Inciralti, Turkey: Department of International medicine.
Grossberg, G.T. (2008). Impact of rivastigmine on caregiver burden associated with Alzheimer’s disease in both informal care and nursing home settings. St Louis, Missouri: St. Louis University.
Herrmann, N. et al. (2011). Changes in nursing burden following memantine for agitation and aggression in long-term care residents with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease. Toronto, Canada. Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
Ignatieff, M. (1999). Deficits. Westport, CA: Praeger Publishers.