Caring for a Loved Suffering From Alzheimers and Depression

By: Brian Willie

It's estimated that almost forty percent of people with Alzheimer's also suffer from depression, most often as a result of their confusion, anxiety and sense of dependency on others. To improve your loved ones quality of life, self-esteem and individual functions, it's essential that you seek treatment for their depression as soon as they show symptoms.

Identifying depression in an Alzheimer's patient can be incredibly difficult because dementia often causes several signs that are also associated with depression, such as: apathy, social withdrawal, isolation and loss of interest in activities. It's hard to determine where a loved ones Alzheimer's symptoms end and their depression begins and, since there is no real test to detect depression, caregivers are often unable to tell that their loved one is depressed.

A medical evaluation is necessary in diagnosing depression in a person with Alzheimer's and it may be helpful to consult not only with your loved ones primary care physician, but with a geriatric psychiatrist as well. A doctor may notice that, along with a depressed mood and decreased pleasure in their usual activities, an Alzheimer's patient experiencing depression may be agitated and have recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. They may have a loss of appetite or be unable to sleep and feel fatigued, hopeless or excessively guilty for no reason.

The treatment process for a person with Alzheimer's also suffering from depression includes both medical and moral support. In combination with one of several different antidepressants, Alzheimer's patients experiencing depression require predictable routines, in order to cope more comfortably with the effects Alzheimer's is having on their day-to-day activities.

You should take the time to reassure your loved one that they will not be abandoned and are causing no burden on you or your family. Schedule different activities that you know they will enjoy and find ways in which your loved one can contribute to family activities and recognize his or her contributions. Above all, Alzheimer's patients suffering from depression need reassurance and support from a dedicated caretaker whose first concern is the comfort of their loved one.

For more information please visit the Alzheimer's Legal Resource Center at:

Alzheimers Disease
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