Alzheimer’s is heartbreaking. It is irreversible and progressive, and it slowly destroys the memory and thinking process of the individual. Recent studies reveal that more than 5.5 million American citizens have it and it is ranked as the 6th leading cause of death in the US. It severely alters the life of the person who has the disease as well as those around them.
If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, here are some facts that only those doing so know to be true:
- It’s a personal and unique journey: There will be no end to the advice, ideas and criticism that others will share with you. Realize that some of this is meant to be helpful and some is just noise. Most importantly, realize that this is all part of your journey and it is not going to look like anyone else’s; take care of yourself and trust yourself.
- Find support: The perfect support is non-judgmental, caring, ready to listen and there for you. Bonus if they also have the experience of being with someone with Alzheimer’s. It’s a club that no one wishes to join, but those that are in it, need each other.
- Say, I need help: People will say to let them know if they can help, right then and there say they can help! Ask they if they are willing to take an hour so you can go do something “normal” like grocery shop or go to the dentist or just sit somewhere quiet. If they offer, take them up on it right then and there.
- This too shall pass: there are going to be some very challenging days, when those days occur, know that the day will pass, it will end. And, there will be good days!
- Look for good: Keep yourself going by keeping an eye out for the good, the happy, the joy, the special moments, the appreciation for who this person has been in your life.
- Expect to grieve: Right now, at this time. The loved one with Alzheimer’s will become less and less them over time. Yes, they are alive, but they are not the person you have come to love. Be aware and grieve as needed, don’t push it away, feel it. As well, you may need to grieve the loss of some of the friends of your loved ones. Not everyone will be able to handle this change in your loved one. The same tends to happen to the caregiver as well, friends can drop. Just know this is a reality and be sure to grieve the loss of those relationships.
Finally, know when it’s time to get professional help. Be willing to find a support group, see a therapist or hire a home health care specialist.