The long dreaded diagnosis has come. After months or even years of watching your loved one become increasingly forgetful, confused, and maybe at times frustrated, the doctors have finally given the symptoms a name – dementia. The symptoms might even lead them to formally diagnosis your loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease or Lewy Body Dementia, the two most common illnesses associated with memory loss.
Like any loving family member, you want to better understand the condition, so naturally you Google it on your phone or computer, or head to your local library to see what information they have. The first thing you’ll learn is that your loved one is not alone. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 5.3 million Americans currently have Alzheimer’s, including one in nine individuals over the age of 65.
With such a high prevalence of dementia in our country (and around the world), it’s no wonder that the internet and your local library are filled with amazing and wonderful resources about the disease. You won’t have to search dusty bookshelf corners or try to tease information out of a few small scientific studies. Instead, you can spend hours, days, even months reading all the literature available on the various forms of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Whatever you want to know, it’s out there. You can learn all the current scientific research into the causes of the disease, consume huge guides on the typical progress of the disease, spend hours combing through message boards, and follow breaking news on new medication trials.
As frustrating as it can be to have too little information, you may soon discover that having too much information is its own difficult challenge.
Can Too Much Information Be a Bad Thing?
Knowledge is power, but too much of a good thing can easily turn bad. There is such a thing as drowning in information – having so many resources that you either have difficulty knowing where to start or simply feel overwhelmed with all the facts and advice coming your way.
Family members can easily get lost in the scientific data or try and fit their loved one into a generic set of symptoms and progression timetables.
Instead, we recommend that you put the research away for a while and just be with your loved one. Each person is a unique individual, and their symptoms and experience will be their own. No one ever perfectly matches the average list of symptoms or progresses in a clean and clear way. Observe your loved one and make decisions based on their specific symptoms, personality, and needs.
Connecting with Other Families
Another great way to develop a better understanding of what your loved one is going through and how you can take care of your family member and yourself is to speak with other families who are going through the same thing. It can be helpful to share your story, compare notes, and offer ideas that have worked well for you. At Sunshine Care, we host a support group for caregivers and families every month where we deal with these issues head on. Sometimes the best information is direct experience, and sometimes the thing you really need isn’t information at all. It’s support, an understanding ear, and comfort from those who understand.
Categories: Memory Care