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Alzheimer’s Disease: Is It Time To Consider Long Term Care?

Galatians 6:2   Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

“I feel so guilty…” – is a statement I’ve heard throughout my entire career as a Director in Social Services, and Long-Term Healthcare Administrator. This was a comment that was parroted by the vast majority of individuals who had to consider, and then eventually, choose Long Term Care Facility for their loved ones.

In my personal experience in this field, I found that the ones who had the most difficult time with admitting loved ones into the facility, were caregivers of individuals afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease. This insidious disease is most notably characterized as a decline in cognitive functioning with a severe deficit in the individuals’ activities of daily living. It can take a toll on all family members with particular emphasis on the main caregiver.

An early indicator might be forgetting things and failing in remembering things. Failure to keep routines afloat, such as paying bills, shopping, communicating, and a lack of personal hygienic practices. And some may become frustrated while driving their automobiles. Forgetting how to return home and a high incidence in getting lost. Confusion and restlessness are often first seen by their caregivers, who will also note personality /behavioral changes that doesn’t reflect their temperament of years past. In fact, quite often a new personality emerges from this disease.

According to John Hopkins Medical, “Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting 5.2 million Americans over the age of 65, as well as hundreds of thousands under the age of 65 who have early-onset Alzheimer’s. Women account for almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Most physicians will want to rule out physical aspects before forging to the conclusion of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.  A complete battery of blood tests, intake of medical history, family history, etc. I’ve seen patients of mine who have exhibited signs of full-blown dementia and come to find out that they merely had a urinary infection. This is quite often the case with the geriatric population, infections can cause utmost confusion. After a series of tests, they probably will want to take a cat scan or MRI of the brain and take it from there.

What I’d like to offer here is advice for those who are finding it difficult after getting the diagnosis, and for the caregivers who are riddled with guilt. It’s okay and so common to feel this emotion. Some people opt to keep their loved ones at home, which can be a viable option for many. Depending on the care you can afford, the help you can get, etc. But sadly, the majority may be too frail themselves to care for someone with this disease. It is exceedingly challenging, exhausting to say the very least. It’s also quite painful to witness the decline of their loved one’s capacity right in front of their eyes and be helpless to stop it.

The once loving husband/wife/mother/father can become unruly, angry, mean. At times striking out physically, or emotionally abusive. Their behavior can be the antithesis of what it once was. And it can be dangerous.

I’ve had a patient who finally decided to place her husband in our care after he put their kitchen on fire while she was asleep in her bedroom. That was enough for her to see that she could no longer handle him on her own. Crying copious tears upon admission, she felt like a failure and clearly emotionally drained.  It came as a complete surprise to her after one month of his admission, when he settled in quite readily and was filled with an inner peace. In fact, he was content, and happy to see her when she visited. She was well rested and was able to spend quality time with him in his new home. In time, she accepted their fate knowing it was the best thing for both of them. He was no longer a danger to himself or to her and was safe and being taken care of in a way she could no longer provide.

I facilitated an Alzheimer’s support group for family members. It was highly successful. The families could vent and relate on every level. Most became good friends. We often prayed during these sessions, held hands, cried, laughed and shared heartfelt stories. It helps so much to share each other’s burdens and stories; it truly is cathartic on every level.

The main ongoing theme for brand new members was the aching gnawing guilt. But I can honestly say in my near 30 years’ experience was that most of them accepted, and welcomed the care shown to their loved ones. And the fact that they were safely taken care of by professionals, allowed them to live their lives without stress or being weary and exhausted.

Within the frame mind of each person, lies the ability to withstand the roughest and toughest of times.  I witnessed some of the greatest love stories in my life from these patients, and their families. I was blessed and honored to be able to help them during their individual heartbreaking journeys.

For myself personally, God’s calling on my heart for this field was my biggest joy. These family members/ caregivers were some of the biggest warriors I’ve met. Their world was turned upside down but their strength, and overall desire was to make sure their beloved family member was safe. This resonated throughout the group, and at the very core of their decision to choose placement for their loved ones. They wanted to rest and understand they were making the right decision.

Most people within the group were faith driven. They found the strength through Christ (Philippians 4:13) and although they prayed for healing (Mark 5:36) –I helped them realize that in the end, sometimes healing is merely a place of comfort, security, care, and peace.

And in the end, isn’t that what we all want?

Jeremiah 33:6 Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.

Note:  If anyone you know or love is exhibiting signs of confusion, or any symptoms of memory decline, please see your medical doctor and start there. There are other ailments and afflictions that can imitate Alzheimer’s. It’s important that you get fully checked out by a medical professional.

Then if the diagnosis is Alzheimer’s disease and if placement is your choice, please be sure to do your due diligence in seeking a facility. Ask for a tour, preferably at mealtimes, or off hours to see what goes on at that time.

Ask what the ratio is per RN and nurse techs per patient. If there are family support groups. Make sure to visit several places, before your final decision. Ask if they have special credentialing for their facility, what programs are in place for this population, and request to read their most recent State Survey Review.

You can get in touch with your local Social Worker for further assistance in your search. Preferably a Geriatric worker, specializing in Long Term Care. Whatever you decide, remember you are doing this because you “love” them so much.

May God be with you, and may you find peace with your decision and choice for your loved one.

About C D SWANSON

C D SWANSON is an Author of 22 plus books, freelance writer, contributor to various websites, including The Bottom Line Ministries/Faith News. She's an active member of Faithwriters- and has her online website/ministry for over 15 years. It is her greatest joy to write what’s in her heart, and thus her favorite form of expression is in her devotionals. She and her husband share a deep love of God and dote on their fur baby Mickey. Retired Director from Long Term Healthcare Industry, she continues to be an advocate for many. To check out other writings of this author you can go here:

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7 comments

  1. I recall years ago a couple from our church was struggling and exhausted from this situation regarding both parents in one of the couple’s family. I felt for them as they spoke about finding help but feelings of guilt played havoc with their minds and they were torn between work and their family’s
    well being on top of this crisis.
    I really can’t say what choices they made as less time was being afforded to them to even come to church.
    You pointed out important issues that factor into decisions that need to be considered without the guilt of being a failure at this and appearing to be uncaring by the opinions of others who have no thought of what these families are dealing with.
    You put an important spin on this by sharing an experience by this particular couple and how the average person doesn’t necessarily have the ability to do what professionals are capable of. A married couple can be torn apart by lack of knowledge to handle such situations because they feel obligated to be
    responsible in every possible way.
    That was an enlightening article to put out there from your own personal experiences. It has to be a person with knowledge mixed with compassion to really bring these people relief and release from this burden that feels like an endless struggle to make things work. They don’t need to fell like they are abandoning their duties within their relationships.
    Thank you for serving multiple people throughout the many years of dedication by showing the way to peace so that healing can come through understanding and be achieved in these individuals who don’t need that weight upon their heart.
    The Lord has blessed others in and through your service for Him.

  2. Cora,

    Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to comment on my article, it means so much to me.

    Second, I appreciate your example of knowing a family who had the “guilt” factor going on as well. As mentioned in my article, it truly is one of the biggest issues when considering placement, that overwhelming black cloud of guilt.

    Cora your words touched my heart, so “thank you!”

    I felt totally blessed to be in His service in this field and called upon to do so. It was a path that I’d do all over again and have never regretted one single moment of this calling for my life.

    God Bless you Cora, you truly are an encouraging voice~

  3. What an informative article, Camille. I think one of the scariest things about this disease is that it can change the personality of the sufferer. We all probably have a story to share about Alzheimer’s, but I think those who probably find it the hardest are the loved ones who endure aggression, abuse and even violent acts at the hands of the one they still love, but who often doesn’t resemble the loved one they once knew. Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom.

    • Thank you so much Jennifer, for your thoughts and comments.

      Yes, many individuals have stories to tell in terms of Alzheimer’s. If not personally, then through a friend or an acquaintance. I have many more, but it would take more than an article to share them. One day I may write a book about the experiences especially in the nursing home industry.

      God Bless you Jennifer~

  4. Great article focusing on the guilt someone goes through admitting their loved one to a long term care facility.
    Another sad truth is that, before the admission decision is made, it’s the caregiver that spirals downhill. I’ve seen caregivers decline in health, appearance and unfortunately spirit. It’s not selfish to make a decision that benefits both the caregiver and the patient.
    Your article makes it clear that doing the right thing is the best for all parties. I hope your article is read by people who need to hear that. You’ll help a lot of people giving them peace of mind.

    • Hello Robin,

      Thank you for your comments and sharing your own experience as well. I really appreciate hearing your insight.

      Yes, the caregiver does bear the brunt of this disease, and oft times their health declines just as rapidly.

      It is my hope that those reading this, and possibly considering placement in a facility for their loved ones, will be “kind to themselves” and make the best possible decision for their individual circumstances and scenarios.

      God Bless~

  5. maybe i have the fiirst signs of this

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