You didn’t apply for this job. And chances are you already hate it, knowing its only going to get worse with time. It will be time consuming, affect you emotionally and physically, as well as potentially be financially draining as well.
Yet you can’t walk away or change it. Dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease are both currently something your loved one won’t recover from. There are ways to slow it down and ways to live with it the best you can. And that’s where knowledge and support come in to play. Remember, you aren’t the first person or family to be dealing with it. Instead of facing the road alone, jump in and learn the tricks and secrets others before you have already learned. Even if one day can be a bit easier, it will make your time spent with your loved one that much more enjoyable.
Your Loved One Has A Disease
When you are frustrated and ready to scream, remember your loved one isn’t doing this by choice. Tell yourself over and over it’s a disease – in some ways his or her brain is damaged and he/she simply doesn’t understand what he/she is doing. Your job is to step back and look at things from a different aspect. Can you accomplish the same thing in a different way? Is it okay if he will only wear a favorite sweater outside? Pick your battles and let the lest go.
It’s Okay To Accept Their Reality
There will be times they forget the current reality. They may talk about getting together with a friend who has been deceased for ten years. Does it really matter if they understand “reality”? Play along with it and let them be happy even if it is just for a moment.
Give Specific Directions
Instead of wording things in question format, give direct actions instead. “Do you want to wear a sweater outside today?” may lead to an argument. “Put on your red sweater” is much more specific and lets your loved one focus on one thing at a time.
It’s Okay To Have Feelings
You will go through a variety of feelings over the next few years. Cheated, frustrated, anger, fatigue, guilt and a whole host of emotions will go through your mind, sometimes all in one day. The important thing is to recognize that you have the right to feel each of them. Don’t go this alone. Get into a support group and talk regularly with others going through similar situations.
Don’t Hide The Facts
You can’t wish things away. You know your loved one best. Share every question or concern with each doctor you come in contact with. Even the littlest things may sometimes have a lasting affect on their overall health.
You Can’t Do It All
You’ve been with your loved one for years; its easy to fall into the trap of “I’ll take care of everything”. Yet this time is different. This entire process will be difficult for everyone involved. The sooner you realize you can’t do it all and need help, the sooner you can work out times for yourself. Never say “no” to anyone willing to come in for an hour or two while you escape to do something else.