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Do Alzheimer's patients suffer?

Yes, emotional and physical suffering can occur. Once someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s suffering from grief or depression is often the first reaction. Both reactions have a severe impact on the quality of life. In the later stages, tube feeding can result in psychological effects that can be compared to the feeling of torture.

If a beloved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s the psychological effect can be agonizing.

Let me tell you the heartbreaking story of Mrs. Blue.

After receiving her diagnosis she turns around to her husband.

Looking at him with tears in her eyes, she whispered: “This is the beginning of the end.”

In the following weeks, she suffered from severe depression, which had not been treated by a professional.

She spent entire days in bed.

Even though her husband Mr. Blue tried his best to make her feel comfortable, he could simply not reach her.

There she was, lying in bed and overcome by the feeling of hopelessness.

Sadly, this will not be the only period in which she will suffer.

Besides, she is not the first to suffer severe depression, which is comorbid to Alzheimer's.

Almost half of all Alzheimer’s patients suffer from depression.

So let’s take a look at the emotions, thought patterns, and psychological effects that arise due to the disease.

Table of Content
How does an Alzheimer’s patient suffer in the early stages?
How does an Alzheimer’s patient suffer in the late stages?
List of Resources
About the Author

How does an Alzheimer’s patient suffer in the early stages?

Suffering from depression is common for patients in the early stages. Knowing that there is no cure creates hopelessness. Besides, knowing that the good days will come to an end increases the effects of depression, too. Having no energy and feeling exhausted is common.

There are thoughts, which indicate that your beloved person suffers from depression.

Sometimes they voice those thoughts, so pay attention to what they are saying.

Thoughts indicating depression in Alzheimer’s patients:
6 Examples
1. There is no cure.
2. Nobody and nothing can help me.
3. There is just so little time left.
4. I will be a burden to my family.
5. Why me?
6. How can this happen to me?

Such thoughts have a direct impact on the emotional world.

Here is a list of feelings/emotions that can be associated with depression.

Emotions and feelings of Alzheimer’s patients with comorbid depression.
7 Examples
1. Feeling hopeless.
2. Experiencing exhaustion.
3. Feeling nothing, or empty.
4. Regretful of life.
5. Feeling down.
6. Discouraged.
7. Feeling dependent.

As you can see, there is an entire emotional roller coaster that can be experienced.

Sometimes, being there and trying your best to help your beloved one is not enough.

It is mandatory to find professional help. Your best bet is a psychotherapist.

The therapist will administer Beck’s Inventory, which is a test for rating depression.

Results can range from mild, moderate to severe depression.

How does an Alzheimer’s patient suffer in the late stages?

Untreated depression can be present. Additionally, many patients lose their ability to chew. Eating and drinking are impossible without a feeding tube. Commonly, patients do not realize having a feeding tube. Thus, trying to free themselves. Then, the patient needs to be fixated and sedated. A procedure, which can have psychological effects that come close to feeling tortured.

Taking care of someone in the late stages of Alzheimer’s is intensive and stressful.

However, Alzheimer’s patients are completely dependent on the care of others.

By that time, they might not remember who their caregivers are from time to time.

Leaving them with a feeling of dependence to a probable stranger.

It could be speculated whether or not feed tubing and complete loss of memory come with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Lastly, we can only imagine what Alzheimer’s patients go through in the late stages.

In my post “Why do Alzheimer’s patients want to go home?”, I describe some common phenomena that can be observed at the later stages. It gives insight into the emotional world that lays beneath the phrase.

So there you have it. Alzheimer’s patients do suffer. But, some cope relatively well. Making the most out of each day.

Nonetheless, I would like to leave you with a small thought experiment.

Imagine the following scenario:

How would you feel, when you would receive an Alzheimer’s diagnosis? And now, try to find the proper date for this event. Maybe when you would be 75 years old?

So how many good years remain for you right now?

Are you satisfied with how you live?

Are you enjoying life to its fullest?

And most importantly would you think this way, even after being diagnosed?

List of Resources

Patric Pförtner

B. Sc. Psychology

Hi, my name is Patric Pfoertner and I graduated 2020 from the NBU. Currently, I work and study in Germany. My specialisations are Cognitive Psychology paired with a good slack of Clinical Psychology. Just this year I started publishing my research in the CBB Journal. Feel free to read about it at ResearchGate. Otherwise, click the other button to read my full CV.

About Author ResearchGate

P.S.: I am available for psychological consultation, too.