Curtis B Clark
My son, take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives. Even if his mind fails, be considerate with him; revile him not in the fullness of your strength.
Caregivers have referred to Alzheimer's disease as an "unending funeral." Cognitive function does not improve, and a general decline that may take 7 to 10 years can be expected, although some individuals have been known to survive as long as 20 years.
This disease does not discriminate according to race, religion, or socioeconomic status. Caregivers or the middle-aged children of the "sandwich generation" are caught between the competing demands of their own lives, such as responsibilities to their spouse, children, and work demands, and the burdens of caring for a frail, elderly parent with dementia. Although a caregiver's intentions may be good, the strains of a relationship may develop over a long period and result in abouse. The theory of the stressed caregiver emphasizes the importance of stress in triggering abusive behavior and reinforces the idea that the care of a family member with Alzheimer's disease indeed, a "36-hour-a-day" burden.
In addition to the theory of the stressed caregiver, the increase in dependency by patients who suffer from Alzheimer's disease seems to be a crucial factor in elderly abuse. Both abused and nonabused patients tend to have a similar degree of physical impairment; however, abused victims seem to have significantly greater cognitive impairment. Thus recent onset of an increased dependency state places a patient with Alzheimer's disease at much higher risk.