Caring for a loved one with Alzheimers can be one of the most challenging obligations for family members and friends. Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly deteriorates memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. This changes how a person acts. Helping a loved one with this disease comes with a lot of obstacles and challenges but you are not alone.

In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear in their mid-60s. Estimates vary, but experts suggest that more than 5.5 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s. The most common early symptom of Alzheimer's is difficulty remembering newly learned information because Alzheimer's changes typically begin in the part of the brain that affects learning. Things that used to be normal and simple tasks become magnified and begin to get difficult for the patient. Too much noise, such as TV, radio, or many people talking at once can cause frustration and confusion.

As Alzheimer's advances, it leads to increasingly severe symptoms, including disorientation, mood and behavior changes; deepening confusion about events, time and place; unfounded suspicions about family, friends and professional caregivers; more serious memory loss and behavior changes; and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking.

Caring for an Alzheimer's or dementia patient can be tiring, frustrating and overwhelming, affecting both the emotional and physical health of the caregiver.  That is why Seashore Gardens Living Center in Galloway offers a free monthly support group to caregivers of people with Alzheimer's or other types of dementia.

Led by a licensed social worker who contributes valuable guidance, the group offers members a chance to share stories and coping strategies, as they provide encouragement and support for one another.  Janice Cambron, Executive Director of Seashore Gardens Living Center, discusses this important support group.