The Alzheimer's Association estimates that there are at least 10.9 million family caregivers who are helping a spouse or parent who has Alzheimer's disease, but some may not even be aware that they are in the position, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
This was the case of Jean Georges, who spent several years with her husband, Leonard, before realizing that he had the condition. Instead, she found that his behavior was changing, imperceptibly at first, until they had severe arguments that left her drained.
"We had an idyllic marriage for nearly 60 years and never conflicted. We always had talked things out. But now he was becoming more agitated if he didn't get his way, and we seemed to be arguing over everything," she told the news provider.
Her experiences culminated in a stress-induced heart attack that could have cost her life. Now, she recommends that caregivers seek counseling when they are tending to Alzheimer's patients, because the responsibilities can be so immense.
Family caregivers who are feeling overwhelmed may also want to try and have as many ways as possible to care for a loved one. A personal emergency response system can act as a medical alarm in a residence and ensure that older adults can immediately notify caretakers or doctors if they are in need of assistance.