Impact of Alzheimer Disease on Family Patients Paper Example

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1650 Words
Date:  2022-11-15


In the past century, health care improvements have been aiming at improving people's life span and sustaining healthier lives. However, the number of people suffering from non-communicable diseases such as dementia, heart complications, asthma, and diabetes among other illnesses have been increasing (Gwyther, 2018). For instance, dementia has developed to be one of the major and demanding diseases in public health. Dementia is a condition characterized by a disturbance of multiple brain functions such as the cognitive abilities thus interfering with patients' daily lives. They are several types of dementia, including vascular, mixed, Parkinson's, Lewy bodies, and posterior cortical atrophy, but the most common is Alzheimer's disease.

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Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, progressive brain syndrome that gradually destroys memory abilities, thinking skills, communication, and capacity to carry out daily activities. More than 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease, which accounts for 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases in the United States (Gwyther, 2018). The syndrome also affects over 15 million families, friends, and caregivers who are obliged to keep a close look at the patients. By 2017, about 50 million people were living with the Alzheimer's disease globally and this number is anticipated to double in every 20 years, which is likely to cripple the health care systems and strain relatives, families and caregivers of the ailing persons (Gwyther, 2018). Therefore, this paper will be a research analysis of Alzheimer's disease and the problems encountered by the families of the patients. The paper will also focus on possible barriers and nursing approaches that would help in resolving those problems.

Research Questions

  • Is taking care of Alzheimer's disease patients a challenge to families and caregivers?
  • What are the challenges families and other informal caregivers for patients with Alzheimer's diseases experience?
  • Which are the possible barriers to addressing the outlined problems?
  • Which nursing approaches families and caregivers can use to address challenges associated with taking care of Alzheimer's disease patients?

Description of Alzheimer Disease and the Problem Encountered by the Families of Patients

Alzheimer's disease mainly affects the functionality of the brain of the ailing person. During the development of the disease, proteins accumulate in the brain to form plaques and tangles structures, which lead to disconnection and death of nerve cells and damage to the brain tissues. People suffering from Alzheimer's disease also lack neurotransmitters, important chemicals that help in transmitting signals around the brain. Eventually, as time passes the parts of the brain are fundamentally damaged making the syndrome more severe.

The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are usually mild in the early stages of the illness but intensify over time. The symptoms may vary from one person to another making it difficult for the caregivers and nurses to formulate a general framework in dealing with affected patients. However, for most of the people with Alzheimer's the earliest symptoms is usually the memory lapses. Ailing people find it difficult to recall recent events and learning new information. As a result, one starts to struggle to choose the right word in a conversation, easily losses items that might be just around, suffers from disorientation, and forget appointments among other basic activities. Eventually, Alzheimer's patient develops problems with aspects of reasoning, thinking, communication, and perception.

Mostly, after impairment of brain function and loss of cognitive abilities, people begin to realize that Alzheimer's disease is unlike any other ailments. Dealing with deteriorating brain damage disease is much different from handling patients with physical disabilities. Alzheimer's is more disruptive to and has an intense impact on, the family and caregivers of affected patients as compared to other chronic diseases. Alzheimer's disease demands a high social, financial, and emotional price. Likewise, caregiving families must adopt an effective approach to cope with the disease and reduce the spreading of harmful effects.

Theoretical Framework on Alzheimer's disease and Burdens to Family Caregivers

The burdens associated with taking care of Alzheimer's patients include social, psychological, and emotional distresses as well as financial constraints particularly to family members. The limited number of nursing home beds, rising medical costs, and restricted government and insurance reimbursements have obliged relatives to Alzheimer's patients to assume responsibility in caregiving. The social network theory, social support paradigms, comfort theory, and literature on informal caregiving have differently described a possible intervention to challenges encountered while taking care of Alzheimer's patients.

The Social Network Theory

Social networks refer to linkages or frequencies of contact with other people and groups. According to the social network theory, the developed networks lead to heterogeneous relationships with different levels of supportiveness. In this case, the family to Alzheimer's patients have to provide support to their loved ones to overcome the diseases and their effects. The social network theory can further be divided into the task-specific model and hierarchical-compensatory concept (McEwen & Wills, 2017). The task-specific model puts emphasis on the fact that social networks have different nature as they are meant to fulfill dissimilar tasks. On the other hand, the hierarchical-compensatory concept indicates that those in need of help may have ordered preference based on primacy and relationship of the caregiver (Alligood, 2017). For instance, elderly people mainly prefer being assisted by their spouses, but when they are not available, they can turn to their children, relatives and eventually friends or neighbors. In this case, the social network theories demand a close link between the patient and the caregiver, which makes the caregiver emotional and stressed.

The Social Support Theory

The social support theory aims at establishing social networks that would help people cope with stressful events. It promotes psychological well-being because caregivers have higher chances of developing stress symptoms as compared to the non-caregiving population in society. Social support theory can be further be divided into direct effect model, which emphasizes on benefits of receiving support concerning social identity and loneliness (McEwen & Wills, 2017). The contrary, stress-related concept, which has received most of the attention in social support theory research, suggests that stressors such as daily hassles affect the appraisal process of the patient's conditions. Therefore, family caregivers should receive substantial support to help them overcome negativities associated with taking care of Alzheimer's patients.

Comfort Theory

According to comfort theory, patients experience demands consolation from the surrounding environment and people. Some of the needs should be identified by the caregiver or nurses who then incorporate them into intervention programs (McEwen & Wills, 2017). For instance, the caregiver should identify the comfort needs of their patients and family members to ensure they are satisfied with health care. However, enhancing patients comfort comes at a cost. Therefore, to minimize the cost and bearing that Alzheimer's is a progressive disease; a family member mostly takes the initiative to take care of the loved one. Unlike in the nursing home, the caregiver in this situation does not earn for their services and most of them end up spending much of their time with the patient to promote healthy behaviors.

Narrative Synthesis of Literature Reviewed

August 23, 2014 Dementia, bereaved, family caregiver and qualitative description PubMed 126 21 4052

January 24, 2016 Caregivers, Alzheimer disease, aging SciELO23 3 750

July 26, 2016 Family caregivers, consumer health informatics, Alzheimer's disease PubMed 61 10 2569

July 1, 2014 the behavioral problem, illness trajectory, role strain, caregiving activity, preparedness Pro-Quest 1919 30 4567


An electronic database search was performed in Pro-quest, Google Scholar, PubMed, and SciELO libraries on studies conducted between June 2014 and July 2018. Some of the keywords used were dementia, Alzheimer disease, caregiving, family caregivers, care at home support, informal care, behavioral problems, role strains, and health informatics among other terms. The inclusion criteria for the study included a description of Alzheimer disease, family caregivers, problems encountered by informal caregivers, and theories related to informal caregiving in patients' homes. The theories reviewed and considered applicable in evaluating the effects of family caregiving included the social network theory, social support concept, and comfort theory. Examination and assessments aimed at using these theories to determine potential interventions to overcome barriers associated family caregiving particularly among Alzheimer's patients.


Caring for people with Alzheimer dementia is a complex activity especially for informal caregivers that have not acquired the necessary skills. However, informal caregivers care for most of the over 5 million people living with Alzheimer's disease in the United States at home. Alzheimer's disease is a progressive ailment that occurs over an extended period and therefore it requires a substantial amount of time, resources, and skills to overcome associated challenges. Most of the family caregivers are non-professional and non-paid individual meaning that they barely earn from their devotion. It has been estimated that among the 15 million family caregivers in America they provide up to 17.9 billion hours of free caregiving services (Kucmanski et al., 2016). Within this period, most of the caregivers encounter economic, physical, emotional, and psychological challenges that undermine their ability to serve the recipient patient as shown by the following studies.

A cross-sectional, experimental study was conducted to examine the caregiving activities, roles, and strains of caregivers at different phases of dementia. According to Huang et al, 2015 the experiences family caregivers go through may have both positive and negative consequences. For the purpose of this analysis, the care recipients were defined as elderly patients with over sixty years of age. The setting of the age bracket was based on the findings that most of the patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease are over sixty years and mostly relies on their spouses, children, and neighbors for care (Huang et al., 2015). The caregivers play anticipatory, preventative, supervision, instrumental and protective roles in ensuring the care recipient interact well with their environment and other people.

Likewise, a qualitative, descriptive study conducted in Santa Catarina among eight family caregivers found that caregivers experience a range of situations. Among them need for more information about Alzheimer's disease, suffer from depression, and psychological distress, which hinders them from being effective. Nevertheless, there is a wide range of strategies that caregivers should consider in ensuring effective caregiving. The study found that focusing on cultural, social, and environmental factors would enhance patients care and welfare of the caregivers.

According to a study describing the overal...

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Impact of Alzheimer Disease on Family Patients Paper Example. (2022, Nov 15). Retrieved from

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