“Are you my mother?” If someone you care about has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, you get it. Some days they are happy to see you, other days they are furious with you for an unknown reason, while on another day they have no idea who you are.
In most cases the disease does not rob us of someone we care about overnight, but quite gradually. It may take years to progress, and during that time the person we know slowly slips away. The changes start subtly and becomme exaggerated over the course of time.
Forgetfulness is not the only change that occurs. Anger and frustration are very common symptoms and much harder to swallow and manage. In general, aggressive behaviors can put a wedge in many relationships. But with a person suffering from Alzheimer’s, we cannot rationalize, counsel or talk about it later. In these cases, we are stuck dealing with the aftermath on our own. We blame ourselves for saying something that set them off or wish we had not even bothered saying anything at all. Guilt and shame, although self-imposed, are common feelings we might have.
It may seem like all of a sudden the person who always dressed well, combed their hair and came to the party ready to socialize is donning polka dots and florals together. (Although these days sometimes anything goes!) Their hair has not been combed in days and they have forgotten to bathe for a week. They don’t look the same anymore, and in fact, they are not the same. They are a shell of who they were. Sadly there is a look in their eyes that tells you they just aren’t there. It may leave you sad and feeling powerless. You want to fix it, but there is no cure.
So, what do you do when faced with the loss of someone you love even though they are living?
1. Educate yourself about Alzheimer’s
Learn what you can about the disease. Although the outcome is usually similar, the way Alzheimer’s presents itself in each person is not the same, including how it progresses. What is true for one patient may not be true for the next. Educate yourself about Alzheimer’s here: What Are The 7 Stages Of Alzheimers Disease?
2. Care for yourself
If you are a primary caregiver, even if your loved one does not live in your home, you must care for yourself. You need days off. It doesn’t help anyone, not even your loved one, for you to be there every day if you’re worn out and frazzled.
3. Talk about it
Don’t internalize! Talk to your family, caregivers other family members who visit regularly. This is not easy, and you should not shoulder it quietly all the time.
4. Accept it
It’s not your fault. Every life has an expiration date. No one lives forever, and we will all meet our end one way or another. As blunt and to the point as that may be, it’s true. Try to make the best of a bad situation. Find ways to enjoy your moments. Don’t focus too long on the bad days, but remember the good days.
An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is tough to take and rough to work through. Call Presto Real Estate Services at (630) 336-1820 or write email@example.com. We have personal experience with the disease and have insights and resources to share with you if you need support. Call us today for a FREE consultation.