With Alzheimer's disease, loved ones can feel like they are walking a tightrope. Sometimes you need help to restore balance. Loss, marginalization, and disorientation: a person with with Alzheimer's disease is forced to live with these feelings daily. And, as caregivers know, the disease - in turn - affects the whole family environment. Loved ones must work to find new personal, family and social equilibrium. It's like walking a tightrope... Read more
Living with Someone with Alzheimer's Disease? Get Help with the Right Care Provider. When a loved one develops intermediate- or advanced-stage Alzheimer's disease, decisions may need to be made quickly. For family members and family caregivers this can be a very difficult time because, let's be honest, few of us are really prepared for all that will be necessary to care for a patient with Alzheimer's.
I have Alzheimer's disease and it feels like, little by little, my brain is being stolen. Alzheimer's patients can fear being aware of their memory loss. This fear can be especially difficult for those who are diagnosed early or at a relatively young age. Of course, the progression of the disease and its symptoms can vary greatly from person to person, with different stages and timeframes for all.... read more
My Mom Made Bad Tagliatelle Pasta... Impossible... Could Cooking be an Alzheimer’s Memory Test? Early manifestations of Alzheimer’s disease may show themselves in everyday, formerly simple things, like making a favorite recipe, putting the silverware in order, or driving to a familiar location. Other early signs of Alzheimer’s can include memory problems that disrupt day-to-day life such as often forgetting things, or having trouble working out the monthly bills, or experiencing new problems with speaking or writing... read more
If you choose to care for your loved one with Alzheimer's at home -- whether with the assistance of in home health care or an Alzheimer's day care facility, or not -- the balance of your life will shift. It will likely need to in order to meet your loved one's and your new needs. You will probably find that you need to change expectations for home life, adjust time patterns, rearrange the physical space, and more. For me, it helped to redefine my home, at least in part, as its own little Alzheimer's assisted living facility or memory care facility and our days as Alzheimer's day care. Of course, I couldn't make all the necessary changes by myself. Surrounding myself with competent, knowledgeable people, throughout, helps immensely.
My wife has Alzheimer's disease and caring for her is physically as well as emotionally demanding. Caring for myself, therefore, is essential -- for both of us.
As a caregiver, I think that self-care starts with awareness, honesty, and acceptance. Many of us who care for our spouses in one way or another may not at first recognize, or may choose not to recognize, the early symptoms of Alzheimer's. Personally, I went through some denial. I wanted to believe that if I worked hard enough and just kept living my life -- our life -- normally, then it would all indeed be... normal.
Recognize Caregiver Stress
I have always loved my job and been accomplished at it. You could even say I WAS my job. At the time of my wife's diagnosis, my boss was set to retire and I was poised to be his replacement. Fearing that a perception of fragility would hurt my career trajectory, I avoided talking publicly about my wife's illness. But caring for my wife meant I had new responsibilities and concerns, on top of all the things I was already handling. Soon, I started to see negative effects at work. I was building a dam to stem the tide of my emotions and the problems that were mounting up. Stress just kept coming and I didn't know how to deal with it, except by blocking it off and keeping it inside. As a result I became increasingly anxious and exhausted... read more.
When you live with Alzheimer's disease or any other form of dementia, feast days and celebrations may be difficult to enjoy because they can be filled with emotions and conflicting expectations.
Every year, seasonal holidays and birthdays allow us to remember the value of traditions and to show affection for our loved ones, but they can also magnify feelings of loss for things that have changed due to Alzheimer's. For me personally, Christmas celebrations have always represented a delightful change in the daily routine. I love getting the house ready, decorating the tree, lighting many candles, and gathering friends and relatives for lunch and to exchange gifts. I thought I'd never give up any of it.