Alzheimer's Disease: A Guide for Families

By Lenore S. Powell; Katie Courtice | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 18
Help for Troubled
Caregivers

Alzheimer's disease is a family problem. The effects of the illness touch every member, even if only one person is the principal caregiver. Often, when that caregiver is the spouse, the caregiving role comes at a time when he or she is older and perhaps in poor health.

Many times, of course, children will become involved in a parent's care as well. For example, when an aging parent has lost a spouse, middle-aged daughters are most likely to take on the responsibility of daily care. Even when both parents are alive and one spouse might reasonably expect to care for the other, daughters often play an ancillary role in helping the caregiving parent to contact outside sources of help. When the parent feels unable to cope with the burden of an aging, confused spouse alone, female children and other female relatives often take over and assist in giving care. Perhaps this happens because females are raised to be nurturing and have traditionally been at home. They also tend to keep more closely in touch with their parents than males do. Even daughters-in-law who have good relationships with their parents-in-law take on the caregiver's role.

In our experience, males are likely to be primary caregivers either when they are "only" children or when a daughter has had an unhappy relationship with the parents and refuses the role of caregiver. Perhaps

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