I read a recent article on the effects of Alzheimer’s on a caregiver. And while the statistics are shocking, they aren’t unexpected. Anyone in a caregiving role understands.
According to The Alzheimer’s Association:
- Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States
- Alzheimer’s is the 5th leading cause of death in people over the age of 65
- By 2050, the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease may nearly triple, from 5.2 million to a projected 13.8 million
Here’s something else to think about. Alzheimer’s is the only disease among the top 10 causes of death that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed. Without more advancement in research, Alzheimer’s will continue growing by leaps and bounds. And it will impact families at far greater rates.
Which also means the impact on caregivers will escalate too.
A Stanford University study found that:
- Caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s have a 63 percent higher mortality rate than non-caregivers
- 40 percent of Alzheimer’s caregivers will die from stress related disorders before the patient dies
To say caregiving is all-consuming is an understatement at best.
What happens when it all comes to an end?
Caregiving becomes your life. And when that role consumes you day after day, month after month, year after year, you gradually lose you.
Caregiving consumes you. It takes over your identity. You lose you as you put the needs of another over yours. You become programmed to react to what someone else needs. Your needs come in a very distant second, only if and when there is time. (Time? When is there ever time?)
Then it stops. All that’s left is you. And the questions of “Why did this happen?” and “Now what?”
It’s easy to lose you.
It’s more difficult to find your way back.
Your time becomes “me” time once again. You suddenly can do what you want to do. You have time to put your needs first. And in this time of rediscovery, it’s up to you to enjoy every piece of what’s around you. A long walk. A sunset on the beach. Good food. Time with friends.
You may not know your purpose yet, but life will show you the way. It’s up to you to decide what to do with your newfound freedom.
Open up and let it in.