The Importance of Early Counseling and Education of Persons Diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease and Their Caregivers
Master of Science
Department or Program
Robertson, Stacia L.
When people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, they go through periods of depression simply because the prognosis is eventual and certain death. By the same token, many healthcare professionals and insurance companies with whom individuals and their families must deal take an often cold approach to the diagnosis, considering counseling as a waste of time for a situation in which a physical prognosis is hopeless. In treating the physical aspect of the disease, many doctors do in fact prescribe an antidepressant, which ironically, will exacerbate the physical condition of the person affected, hastening the physical decline. Therefore, while the ultimate tragedy is the sentence of death, the progression toward the final stage is not always addressed in such a way to alleviate the severe depression that results from the gradual inability for self-care and to maintain relationships because of lost memory and cognitive function. Research has shown that caregivers and care receivers often experience the same type of distress and strain and seemingly go through congruent psychological stages.
Regardless of the bleak prognosis for those diagnosed and for those in caregiving roles, ways to best manage the disease offer a more hopeful outlook. Early detection of the disease is the best way to manage it; and as research continues, more people are becoming aware of what the disease entails. With lifestyle changes, medication, and some preventative measures, people with Alzheimer’s disease can maintain a quality of life for months or even years, especially when counseling is available for both the caregiver and care receiver. Counseling services could make a drastic improvement in the entire scenario, especially since caregivers and care receivers alike can feel trapped in a hopeless situation.