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Finding Alzheimer's Hope and Caregiver Inspiration

Sherry Christiansen
By Sherry ChristiansenJanuary 29, 2018

After a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s common that family members assume most (if not all) caregiving tasks.

Although caregivers face one of life’s biggest challenges, it’s not unusual for daughters, sons, spouses and other family members to share inspirational stories about their caregiving experiences.

Caregiver Inspiration

There are many stories of hope and inspiration, told by those who have lived with a family member diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. From famous people – like Maria Shriver and Lauren Miller Rogen – to everyday folks like you and me, there’s no doubt that having a family member with Alzheimer’s can bring out the best in people.

Not only are there endless accounts of people’s true life inspiring stories about the disease, there have also been some recent scientific studies that pointed to some of the brighter aspects of caring for a person with Alzheimer’s as well.

One such study, led by Michael Poulin, Associate Psychology Professor at The University of Buffalo, found that spouses reported feeling happy about providing caregiving tasks. The study, published by the American Psychological Association’s journal, Health Psychology, questioned spousal caregivers regarding how they felt about providing care for their loved one with Alzheimer’s.

Much to the dismay of many experts, Poulin discovered that when spouses felt appreciated for helping a loved one, it was reportedly a positive experience for the spousal caregiver. The spousal caregivers in the study, who experienced positive feelings about caring for their loved ones, also ended up with fewer symptoms of caregiver stress and overload than caregivers who did not report feeling positive.

“Spending time attempting to provide help can be beneficial for a caregiver’s mental and physical well-being, but only during those times when the caregiver sees that their help has made a difference and that difference is noticed and recognized by their partner,” Poulin says.

“These conclusions are important because we know that spousal caregiving is an enormous burden, emotionally, physically and economically,” says Poulin. “If we can find ways for community resources to help create those conditions, we might be able to make a difference in the lives of millions of people.”

Clinical Trials

Clinical research trials must be performed before any drug (or other treatment modality) can be considered effective and safe for any medical condition (including Alzheimer’s).

Clinical trials may evaluate the risks and effectiveness of treatment modalities (such as medications), or they may also examine things like, the quality of life for people with chronic illnesses. Many research studies aim to improve the health and wellness of caregivers as well.

The benefits of clinical trials include:

  • Caregivers can take advantage of support from professionals and other caregivers involved in the study
  • Clinical trial participants may be eligible for free medical care
  • Getting involved in Alzheimer’s clinical trials is one way of helping to fight for the cure
  • Hope is provided for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers/family members, who otherwise face a disease with no known cure
  • Study participants can take an active role in their plan of care
  • Study participants receive the latest, most advanced treatment possible

Finding Alzheimer’s Hope and Inspiration

Many people volunteer for clinical trials to help join the cause when it comes to finding inspiration, meaning and purpose related to having a family member with Alzheimer’s.

Here are some other ways to get involved:

  1. Donate to the cause. There are many non-profit organizations in need of funding to continue supporting people with Alzheimer’s and/or helping to find a cure. Go to Charity Navigator to learn more about being a donor and find out what type of Alzheimer’s non-profit organizations need donations. Charity Navigator also provides feedback and ratings on the financial information on each charity, type of work each organization does and more.
  2. Join the Alzheimer’s Association’sMy Brain Movement,” to wipe out Alzheimer’s by speaking up politically, joining a research study, volunteering and more.

Medical professionals and scientists are working diligently to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. There are some very promising possibilities on the horizon for early diagnosis methods and new medications, as well as new treatment modalities. In fact, there are over 90 different Alzheimer’s drugs currently undergoing evaluation in clinical trials — and more in the pipeline, waiting for approval for human testing.

So, there’s never been more reason for hope for a cure than there is today. Though, medical science needs thousands of people to volunteer in research projects across the nation before a cure can be found. Check out Trial Match, sponsored by The Alzheimer’s Association, to learn more about clinical trials happening near you.

What has helped you find Alzheimer’s hope and caregiver inspiration? We’d like to hear your stories in the comments below.

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Sherry Christiansen

Sherry Christiansen

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