“I cannot believe my mom scoops cat food out of the can with her finger nail!” “She pooped scooped the yard and picked it up with her hand!” “Yesterday Dad called me a B#*tch!” “If I share with my online support group and say I wish my Dad would die soon of this disease because I don’t want to see him live like this, I get crucified by my fellow group members.” ” Why are you judging me? Have you walked a mile in my shoes?” I have heard these and many similar and even more bazaar comments from family members living with Alzheimer’s disease.
I try to keep things positive on my blog but families and individuals caregiving, and those who have the diagnosis are hurting. Sometimes they are confused and angry. “Am I being manipulated?” “I am asked to make your favorite soup and now you are eating it and think I am poisoning you! AARRRGGGHHH! I don’t know what to do.” Been there? Is this sounding familiar to you? Insert any words in any line and it fits a lot of us. It pains me to hear someone in a moment of weakness or despair say something deep, which they felt at that moment in time, and share it with social media – only to have friends who generally “like” your posts, now viewing you as unkind, selfish, self centered and even cruel. “AS IF the thought never occurred to them!” “If your journey has been so easy you can throw rocks, I am happy for you, well not really!” I have heard all these comments and more and I feel you! Nothing surprises me anymore.
The people we learned our manners from suddenly have none. This is painful to realize. Coming home to all the cabinets open, lights on in every room, drapes closed, every toilet paper roll in the house is IN THE TOILET! Why I Ask, WHY! Only a caregiver understands this angst. Beam me up Scottie!
There are many reasons why these issues arise. Would you believe me if I shared with you that I understand; that I have walked ten thousand miles in these very same shoes? Would it help at all if I share with you how the brain works, and then when it is compromised with cognitive impairment, how it functions? Therefore you could understand the symptoms people with the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s type dementia will display; would it provide a clearer view? Would it make you feel more in control if you knew why seemingly strange behavior happens? I am not with physically with you so I cannot offer you a pillow to scream into. I will appreciate the need for you to go to your room and cry for an hour, but you must get back in the game! We are RESILIENT!
Having the person you love, lose their memory is tough enough. Now add the guilt that says you need to control your emotions better and are having a hard time doing that. Now you have built a mountain.
Even with years of experience, I can’t decipher everything that happens with a simple explanation. I try very hard, but it’s impossible. What I can do is understand, supply an empathetic ear, and a heart that feels you on your deepest level. I can help you wade through the feelings, understand the stages, give you tools to help keep your emotions in check, would that help? Would you feel more relaxed? Would it make the whole family feel more content? If you knew how to act and not REACT, and would you feel more in control of the situation? Would you believe me if I told you I can help you to get where you want to go and feel better about it?
Being able to spend quality time with your husband and kids instead of jumping up every time mom says or does something strange, or having a laugh about it when no one suffered any real damage from the event, would be a benefit to you, yes? Would it be a benefit to have your stress relieved so you could sleep better at night? Would it benefit you if you knew how to address a situation with no anger? I certainly would like to think so.
Please let me know how you feel about your role as a caregiver. Click on the Heading to reply and comment. Please SHARE with family and friends.
]ill Lorentz is the President and Owner of Summit Resilience Training, Dementia Education for Caregivers. She is also the Host of KEZW Cruisin’1430am Dementia Resilience with Jill Lorentz which airs Sunday’s 10:00-10:30 am MST. Jill teaches families and professionals strategies and techniques which help them to feel understood and allows them to relieve stress so they can enjoy their lives while caregiving.