Changes in Cognition
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a very progressive form of dementia that impacts brain function and memory.
Patients who are living with Alzheimer’s disease experience physical changes to the neurological pathways in their brains. These long-term changes affect cognition, and the ability to perform daily tasks as needed. And while many of these changes are unbeknownst to the patient, these changes can make it very difficult for surrounding family and friends to cope with.
Alzheimer’s disease can be unpredictable and vary from patient to patient; for some, this can look like memories of close family members being lost forever – for others, these memories are present but can only be reignited but for short periods of time.
These difficulties can take an emotional toll on the patient and loved ones, and impact the way family members communicate, interact, and maintain relationships.
Mental Health Overlaps
Does Alzheimer’s affect mental health?
It is important to note that, while Alzheimer’s is not a mental illness, it is a form of dementia that impacts mental health.
For many suffering from this disease, changes in behavior can look like personality changes and difficulty regulating mood and behavior.
Mental illness can also be present prior to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, making co-occurring symptoms difficult to differentiate and manage.
In more progressive cases, this can include aggressive, anxious, depressive, and delusional behavior. Thankfully in these cases, treatment options can be implemented to lessen the severities of these symptoms and should always be discussed with a team of dedicated medical professionals.
Alzheimer’s Support & Resources
It takes a village…
Supporting a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease can take a toll on one’s mental wellbeing. Caregivers of patients with accelerated forms of dementia report high rates of depression, anxiety disorders, and physical illness; making them more prone to burnout.
When it comes to mental wellbeing, creating a support system to help navigate major life changes can make all the difference. Studies have shown that a combination of family therapy and support groups can help reduce these symptoms significantly.
If you are a caregiver or family member struggling with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis in your family, feel free to visit the following links below:
These resources can serve as a tool for developing new coping strategies in this challenging season of life.
Alzheimer’s Association Help & Support: https://www.alz.org/help-support
Support for Caregivers: https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving
Government Assistance: https://www.brightfocus.org/alzheimers/organizations