I wish I’d known then what I know now. When Alzheimer’s entered my world in the early 2000s, resources for help and information were scarce. (Maybe we just didn’t know where to look?) We Googled “Stages of Alzheimer’s,” so we sort of knew what was coming but never knew specifically how bad it would get. Or when. So, we struggled through, never knowing what each day would bring. Dad’s behavior changed, his mental age regressed, his memories faded, and finally his body began to break down. It was hard work, even trading off tasks among the four of us. Mom was retired but my siblings and I were juggling jobs and families of our own. We each felt we weren’t doing enough but were unable to do more.
My mom was determined to take care of Dad at home. By herself if necessary. Alone. We kids tried our best to help, but over time as Dad entered each new phase, as his behaviors and his needs became more complex, it became harder for us to make it work. Mom was so determined he would not live out his days alone in a nursing facility or anywhere but at home; if I’d known Dad would live with his Alzheimer’s for a full ten years, would I have tried for SO LONG to help Mom take care of him? Ten years! Maybe I’d have been more insistent that we hire a home caregiver sooner. If we kids had found the Alzheimer’s Assoc.’s Caregiver Stress Check, we probably would have discussed it with Mom, maybe held an intervention, perhaps taken steps to relieve our own stress levels.
The Alzheimer’s Assoc. recommends that those who experience the following should seek resources or support groups that can help. Those caregivers who feel overwhelmed but are in denial may be putting their own health at risk. Please don’t let your own well-meaning efforts to help your loved one affect your health. If YOU aren’t healthy, how much help can you be? Get the help you need.
For additional information:
For the Alzheimer’s Assoc. Caregiver Stress Check, click here:
To learn more about the stages and expected progression of Alzheimer’s, click here: