Alzheimer's disease often compromises one's independence even at its early stages. Initial symptoms such as short-term memory loss or disorientation often concern family members and friends enough to precipitate their involvement. This begins the transition of "independence" into "interdependence" and is the most difficult phase as caregivers are challenged to balance their loved ones' "autonomy" with their need for "protection."
At this time, there may be a tendency to "over protect" with families assuming responsibilities that the individual may be able to still manage independently. This can result in a "learned helplessness" and lower one's sense of self esteem and control.
It is recommended that a differential assessment always be made: that is, evaluate what your loved one can maintain control over and then assist with what he/she cannot manage effectively.
This phase of "interdependence" will gradually change as the disease progresses but the individual's strengths will be nurtured and his/her dignity retained.
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