The “Invisible Second Patients:” How Alzheimer’s Effects the Entire Family

Alzheimer's Effects on the Family

Experts on the social dynamics of memory care advise that families can be profoundly affected by the ripple effect of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

In fact, the impact on families can be so extensive that primary caregivers have been called “the second victims of Alzheimer’s,” and families have been referred to as “the invisible patients.”

Clearly, progressive memory loss can impact normal family life in a variety of challenging ways.

The Importance of Knowledge and Preparation for Everyone’s Sake

Amanda KingExecutive Director at Clarity Pointe Jacksonville in Jacksonville, FL, says, “The effects on primary caregivers can be particularly difficult. In addition to balancing the normal activities of family, career and personal time, caregivers also devote themselves to round-the-clock care and support of their loved ones. For any normal human being, the increasing level of commitment required can be burdensome, exhausting and even dangerous.

“As a result of their daily devotion to a loved one, primary caregivers can experience a poorer quality of life for themselves. Specifically, caregivers experience high rates of physical illness, social isolation, emotional distress and financial hardship compared to non-caregivers in the population.

“For these reasons, it is vitally important for families to understand the potential risks and consequences in advance and take steps to prepare for them. The sooner you organize your resources and develop a plan for care, the less stressful and draining your life will be.” 

An effective caregiving plan should include:

  • Support of other family members and close friends – You can’t do it all!
  • Partnerships with local health professionals, community resources, support groups and specialized resources such as the Alzheimer's Association
  • Other useful support tools such as respite care, online training assistance, help lines and outside professional care
  • The eventual need for a leading memory care assisted living community that offers an engaging and purposeful life as well as a safe, secure and compassionate environment for your loved one

The Effects of Alzheimer’s on Primary Caregivers and Their Families

The article “Family Caregivers of People with Dementia” by Henry Brodaty, MD, offers professional insight into the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on the family unit. Dr. Brodatyreviews some of the major areas where Alzheimer’s affects family members and states, “The effects on caregivers are diverse and complex.” They include:

  • Increased Risk of Physical Illness – Caregivers report a greater number of physical health problems and worse overall health compared with non-caregivers. Caregivers are at increased risk of various problems including cardiovascular problems, lower immunity, poor sleep patterns, slower wound healing and higher levels of chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, ulcers and anemia.
  • Diminished Emotional Well-Being – Levels of psychological distress are significantly higher in dementia caregivers than in other types of caregivers and non-caregivers. Caregiver stress can result in serious psychological problems, including depression and anxiety that should be treated immediately.
  • Increasing Social Isolation – Caregivers often lack social contact and support and, as a result, experience feelings of social isolation. Caregivers tend to sacrifice their own leisure pursuits and hobbies, reduce time with friends and family and give up or reduce employment in order to devote time to their loved one.
  • Growing Financial Challenges – Costs associated with caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease are significant. Direct costs include physician care, diagnostic tests, pharmaceuticals and personal home nursing care. Indirect costs include loss of earnings by family caregivers as they relinquish or reduce employment and paid hours out of either choice or necessity.

Adds Amanda, “It is very important to remember that your life is every bit as important as the person you’re caring for. You deserve a life, too, and your own health and well-being are vital for the loved one who depends on you.

“Remember also that you are never alone. At Clarity Pointe Jacksonville, we understand the many challenges of memory care that caregivers and their families face. We provide support and assistance in many useful ways.” 

Supporting At-Home Caregivers with Programs and Information

Our beautiful new memory care community offers many educational and support programs that assist families in coping with their caregiving responsibilities while continuing to have meaningful interactions and relationships with their loved ones.

We schedule free monthly programs and events for caregivers and families that provide useful information, guidance and support. We invite you to check our monthly events calendar regularly and read our frequent articles on pertinent memory care topics. We are always here to help.

Clarity Pointe … Our Difference is Clear

Clarity Pointe’s Specialized Memory Care “Living” Neighborhoods are truly changing lives for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias – and for those who love them. At Clarity Pointe, our mission is to ensure our residents lead connected and rewarding lives.

Unlike other providers that offer a secure memory care wing in a skilled nursing or assisted living center, Clarity Pointe Jacksonville offers three freestanding, purpose-built Memory Care communities that are solely and entirely dedicated to Memory Care Assisted Living. Our communities blend luxurious surroundings with specialized care that is individualized to each resident and delivered by a compassionate, expert team of professionals.

 We stay current on the latest trends and advancements in Alzheimer’s care and implement them into our residents’ care plans. Always moving forward, we combine the latest in evidence-based programming with luxurious, residential living and compassionate respectful care.

For each of our residents, we offer a life that is engaging, fulfilling, inspiring and meaningful.

To learn more about the Clarity Pointe Difference, contact us today. Be sure to ask about our $5,500 Credit!