September 21st is World Alzheimer’s Day. For those who, like me, have lost a loved one to this cruel disease, today can be a sad day. A few years back, I lost my 93-year-old great grandmother to Alzheimer’s disease; however, this is not a unique experience to me or my family. Dementia is the second leading cause of death of Australians and the leading cause of death among Australian females. With 1 in 9 people over the age of 65 living with Alzheimer’s, the chances are that you or someone you know of is caring or has lost someone to Alzheimer’s. Too many families have to watch a loved one go downhill and slowly disappear. It is a horrible and cruel way to go, and unfortunately, at the moment, there is no way to halt this malevolent disease.
It is crucial to change the stigma around Alzheimer’s, and the best way to do that is to share your story. Below I will share my story and then talk about the fantastic breakthroughs scientists have made in the fight to end Alzheimer’s.
I first experienced Alzheimer’s disease when my late great grandmother was diagnosed with it at the start of her 90s. As the disease progressed, we cared for her as much as possible at home before my great grandfather made the difficult decision to put her into a nursing home. Unfortunately, due to them living a two-hour drive away, we couldn’t visit as often as we liked to, and her decline accelerated after she was admitted to the nursing home, and she soon passed away three years later.
Shortly after she passed, I took up a casual job as an in-home caregiver for the elderly while studying at university. In this job, I have worked with people who have a range of health complications. My main area, though, is working with people who have advanced dementia, mainly Alzheimer’s.
Having worked as a caregiver for almost four years, there are two main points that I have learnt that I want to share to help people who are living or caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.
Firstly, when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, the best trait to practise is patience. Patience is the hardest but is also the most essential attribute that a person can have when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. The memories that are often forgotten are the short-term memories, which can cause confusion, leading to agitation. If…