You likely seek information from others who have been touched by the illness, but the reality of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is that they are a markedly different experience for each person affected. As a caregiver, however, you share common traits with others in the same role:
You are Conflicted
Seeing changes in behavior that you don’t understand
Not wanting to acknowledge a mental health decline in a loved one is normal. Frustration and anger over behavior that seems irrational is also normal. Knowledge is power, but you may be looking through current publications unable to find what looks like your family’s dementia experience. Although the diseases do not have universal attributes, if you can recognize some of the more common qualities that might present themselves, you may be better able to consider necessary steps early and be more prepared them to cope with the disease.
You are Compassionate
Learning to forge a different relationship
“Caregiver care” is critical in long-term illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Getting care for yourself can prove difficult to balance with the obligations you feel when the care you give is to an aging parent. Guilt surrounds your actions; it’s the guilt that comes from making decisions for your parent in their presence but in the absence of their cognitive engagement.
You are Human
Longing to achieve understanding and acceptance
Death is inevitable, and with a diagnosis of dementia, it’s guaranteed. Due to the debilitating nature of the disease, a search for understanding and acceptance starts early for caregivers and lasts beyond a loved one’s ultimate passing. Family caregivers face the dilemma of not being ready to let go, no matter how long or difficult the journey has been.