- With Mayo Clinic health education outreach coordinator
Angela Lunderead biographyclose window
Angela LundeAngela LundeAngela Lunde is a dementia education specialist in the education core of Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at the Abigail Van Buren Alzheimer's Disease Research Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
The transfer of information about dementias, as well as understanding the need for participation in clinical trials, is an essential component of the education core.
Angela is a member of the Alzheimer's Association board of directors and co-chair of the annual Minnesota Dementia Conference. She is a member of the Dementia Behavior Assessment and Response Team (D-BART), a multidisciplinary outreach service assisting professional and family caregivers in understanding and managing difficult behaviors often present in dementia. She facilitates several support groups, including Memory Club, an early-stage education and support series, and more recently, helped to develop and now deliver Healthy Action to Benefit Independence and Thinking (HABIT), a 10-day cognitive rehab and wellness program for people with mild cognitive impairment.
Angela takes a personal interest in understanding the complex changes that take place within relationships and among families when dementia is present. She is particularly interested in providing innovative and accessible ways for people with dementia and their families to receive information and participate in valuable programs that promote well-being.
"Amid a devastating disease, there are tools, therapies, programs and ways to cope, and it is vital that families are connected to these resources," she says.
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Oct. 30, 2010
For caregivers, it's OK to feel good and bad
By Angela Lunde
In a recent blog, Linda wrote: "As a caregiver, this early stage of my husband's Alzheimer's is a bag of mixed actions. He's not reacted to the diagnosis any more than a common cold. I often feel he is kidding around with me and finding ways to get out of doing things. I don't know what to feel and I don't know what to do. What is going on?"
I wanted to share some thoughts on what Linda wrote because I'm convinced many other Alzheimer's caregivers feel the same. One of the most common neuropsychiatric symptoms in Alzheimer's is apathy. Apathy is a symptom of the disease caused by changes in certain regions of the brain.
Persons with apathy show a lack of interest, initiation and motivation. Activities that they once engaged in seem of little interest anymore. They appear passive, indifferent and may lack "normal" emotion or concern toward others or the environment around them.
When apathy is present, Alzheimer's caregivers often describe their loved ones as stubborn or lazy. Caregivers feel that they have to take responsibility for everything; understandably, this can lead to conflict. Caregivers can feel like they are constantly giving orders, nagging, and questioning the intentions of their loved one with the disease. Over time, they may feel resentment toward their loved one, and become more angry and overwhelmed as their caregiving responsibilities increase.
It's important to keep in mind that persons with Alzheimer's generally lack the ability to scheme or plot a way to "get out of" something. No degree of nagging or persuasion will motivate someone with apathy. In addition, pointing out their lack of interest, inability to complete common tasks, or overall unwillingness, will not improve the situation. In fact, it will probably make things worse.
This does not mean that Alzheimer's caregivers should never feel angry. To the contrary, caregivers have every right to feel all emotions that come their way — anger, fear, sadness, guilt, pain. If caregivers don't give themselves permission to feel what they feel, all emotions eventually go numb. To feel love, joy, contentment, we must accept whatever our lives (and our feelings) are at the moment. Give yourself permission to feel it all Linda — good and bad.blog index