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Ana Canga Armayor, Nuria Esandi Larramendi,, School de Enfermería

Alzheimer's disease: "A family affair".

Sat, 21 Sep 2013 08:12:00 +0000 Published in News Journal

Today, September 21 is celebrated as World Alzheimer's Day. An initiative established by the World Health Organization (WHO) and supported by Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) since 1994.

This day represents an opportunity to raise awareness of the disease and its consequences, as these transcend the limits of those who suffer from it and affect those who care for them. Therefore, the aim of this day is to promote the support and solidarity of the entire population.

The slogan proposed by the international association for 2013 is Dementia: a journey of caring, in recognition of the care needed by those affected and their caregivers.

As this slogan reflects, living with the disease involves a long trajectory of care, mostly provided by the family. The overwhelming and unforeseen changes brought about by the disease break with the logic of family life events, even compromising the dynamics and normal functioning of the family unit.

It is for all these reasons that Alzheimer's disease requires the commitment and participation of everyone and, consequently, its care must be extended to the entire family system. In this sense, the professionals involved have a fundamental role to play, since among our competencies is to offer holistic care that, without forgetting individual health, approaches family health care.

Scholars of area insist that the person with Alzheimer's disease cannot be considered outside the family, since this disease is "a family affair". We nurses, care professionals, recognize that there are many challenges that "the family caregiver" faces on a daily basis, but we cannot forget its positive dimension: the opportunity to discover and reinforce its capacities and strengths, and to intensify the human commitment, affection and solidarity that exists among its members.

Thus, we propose to work with a positive family approach whose emphasis lies in identifying and reinforcing the competencies, values and hopes of families, considering their care as a process of opportunities and growth for the family unit. Nursing professionals should and can help them to be resourceful in the face of crises that may arise, to cope with persistent tensions and to respond to future challenges in an autonomous manner manager . At final, to live with this disease in a sustainable way.

Both people with Alzheimer's disease and their families need support and training in the care and maintenance of their own life, from the onset of the disease. From the School of Nursing we are working with enthusiasm because this purpose is fulfilled, developing research and implementing strategies of training that collect the experiences and perspectives of the family unit, without forgetting the person with Alzheimer's disease.