Category Archives: Alzheimers

Debunking Alzheimer’s Myths: Helping The Caregiver Cope

Dealing with an aging parent or a spouse afflicted with a memory disorder such as Alzheimer’s could be one of the most stressful life events that a caregiver has to cope with. Adding to that stress can be the sometimes misleading myths or even preconceived notions we have about memory disorders.

Here are some thoughts to keep in mind:

  • “It can’t be Alzheimer’s because he can remember some life events.” The loss of short term memory is the first to be noticed, but memories created from past life events may still be as clear as day to your loved one. Having an understanding of the way the memory is impacted will help the caregiver or spouse understand the progression of the memory loss and helps them to plan for the future.
  • Your loved one is not acting to make you angry. The caregiver needs to keep this front of mind and direct anger or annoyance at the disease, not their aging relative.
  • While there is no cure for dementia or Alzheimer’s there are non-drug and drug therapies on the market that can improve quality of life and slow the decline of memory loss. Simply implementing a daily routine of tasks, physical activity and social interaction can help your loved one, and the rest of the family, better cope with the memory loss.
  • Resist the urge to correct your spouse or aging parent when they offer an incorrect fact or bit of advice. Keep in mind that using logic with someone suffering dementia is a losing battle for both sides and will likely lead to anger and more confusion. Allow for slips in logic or gaps in the retelling of family stories.
  • Staying home and keeping your relative out of the public eye is not the best course of action. Social stimulation coupled with physical activity is what your relative needs at this point, regardless of whether she will retain the memory of the outing. Bringing happiness into your relative’s life is more crucial than the memories she may retain.
  • Many caregivers experience guilt when the task of caring for an aging parent or spouse simply becomes too much for one person to tackle. Even if the home is age-proofed and there is adequate help, there may simply come a time when your relative’s medical needs are better met in an assisted living facility and while it is not an easy decision, it is one the entire family needs to discuss prior to the need arising.

Asking for advice and assistance from the family physician and reaching out to local agencies that deal with the issues of the elderly can help the caregiver and family cope with eventualities that arise from the onset of dementia.



Understanding and Knowing the Signs of Paranoia

Alzheimer’s is typically associated with confusion and memory loss, but one of the oft-overlooked signs of the disease is rampant paranoia. Caring for a loved one who suffers from paranoia is no easy task. It is important to know the signs so that caregivers can appropriately react and correctly treat their loved ones.


  • A desire to isolate oneself: People suffering from paranoia often do not want to spend time with others. They may fear those around them are out to harm them so they become reclusive in their behaviors.
  • Constantly suspicious: Paranoia is centered around suspicion. Your loved one may feel that others are plotting against them and that every interaction has a deceptive hidden agenda.
  • Unable to relax: Paranoia can manifest itself in poor self-image and aggressive behaviors toward others.
  • Overcome with delusion: The reason for paranoia often stems from the belief that the individual has some great knowledge or skill worth acquiring.



If you believe your loved is suffering from paranoia, it is important to know how to react in the situation. Most importantly, you should never tell your loved one that he or she is acting paranoid. This will only reaffirm their belief that their feelings of paranoia are validated.


If your loved one expresses fears regarding someone else plotting against them, try to help them relax  and find out why they feel that way. Similarly, if your loved one believes that something has been stolen from them, it is advised you humor their claims and help them look for it.


When people come over to the house, it is best to brief them on the situtaion and your loved one’s condition so they are not overwhelmed by false accusations by your loved one. Try to keep the situation calm when it comes to involving your care recipient. Large crowds can overwhelm them and make them feel very unsettled.


If you believe that your loved one is suffering from paranoia, it is very important to discuss their medications with their doctor including prescribed, over-the-counter medications and vitamins. Over-medication can be a cause of paranoia.


Recognizing the signs of paranoia will allow caregivers to remain calm and develop a better understanding of their loved one’s condition. If your loved one is currently suffering from paranoia, consult their doctor for more information.


Remain Active, Involved In Golden Years

When retirement rolls around, many seniors are unsure of what to do with all of their free time; as a caregiver or family member, it’s crucial that you help your elderly family member find ways to remain active and involved. Volunteering is a gratifying venue for many retired individuals as it gives them a way to give back to the community and gets them out of the house. Remaining active and involved and having a purpose in life, benefits your loved one in both mental and physical ways as well.

Studies have been conducted to show the benefits of volunteering. Consider talking to your parents and determine if volunteering might be an avenue for them to consider as it could enhance their life and allow them to age in place for many more years. In addition to volunteering and remaining active, having a home medical alert device for your aging loved ones also allows them to remain independent in their own home.

Here are the benefits volunteers reap:

  • It can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Because volunteers report a higher satisfaction and quality of life than those individuals who don’t remain involved, they are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease (according to researchers at the University Medical Center in Chicago).
  • Volunteering can lower the mortality rate in senior citizens. A study in the Journal of Gerontology showed that “those who gave social support to others had lower rates of mortality than those who did not, even when controlling for socioeconomic status, education, marital status, age, gender, and ethnicity;” this, alone, should be a motivating factor for volunteering.
  • Remaining physically active lessens the risk of trips and falls and prevents frailty. In a report by UCLA, it was shown that productive activities “prevent the onset of frailty.” Frailty is marked by physicians as being low energy, strength, low physical activity and weight loss.

Remaining active and involved helps improve brain function.

  • Volunteering provides a sense of purpose and accomplishment and helps improve social skills. If your aging loved ones are involved with their peers, they will find a sense of community among them and that will enhance their retirement years.

If your retired parents are feeling at loose ends, you can help them uncover volunteer opportunities by starting with their hobbies and interests. If your parents have a particular skill (carpentry, crocheting, cooking etc.) that they could pass along to others, look into adult living centers as a place to share the skills they possess. Look into volunteer opportunities at local museums, theaters, schools, senior centers, youth organizations and places of worship. The volunteering activity should be one that your parents enjoy and look forward to so make certain it is a good fit for both them and the organization.