Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia. It’s characterized by memory loss, changed personality and impaired judgment. Often, the responsibility for caring for a loved one falls on a close family member. As a caregiver, this responsibility can take both an emotional and physical toll. As the disease progresses, the family caregiver must cope with a variety of factors like behavioral disorders, wandering, agitation and sleep disturbances.
Psychosocial Interventions for a Family Caregiver
There are a number of psychosocial interventions to help families cope with taking care of a loved one who has Alzheimer’s.
- Support Groups: With support groups, caregivers can share feelings, learn practical information and gain both emotional and moral support. These support groups can be found through hospitals, senior service organizations and local chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association.
- Pharmacological Treatment: There are several medications on the market that can help to delay the severity of behavioral symptoms and cognitive impairment for those with Alzheimer’s disease. A family member’s doctor or geriatric psychiatrist will be able to discuss the available drug therapy.
- Long-Term Care: Often, it becomes necessary for a caregiver to seek a long-term care facility for their loved one. If a loved one is placed in a nursing home, geriatric psychiatrists, psychologists and licensed counselors may provide group and family counseling, individual therapy or support groups. These services often help the caregiver and family deal with feelings of grief, anxiety and guilt.
- Recreational and Art Therapies: Recreational therapies include simple games, group activities and exercises. Often, these types of stimulation can help control behavioral problems. Art therapies like coloring, dance, drawing and listening to music provides the Alzheimer’s patient with a creative outlet to express emotion. Art therapies provide a decrease in agitation, mood improvement, intellectual stimulation and improved motor skills.