Journey is Unique
I am a child of Alzheimer’s
My mother was diagnosed in 1994. She passed in 2010. My father,
diagnosed in 2008, passed last May (2020). 26 years …
This is what I have learned:
As a caregiver for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s you will benefit from a strong support network. Your family and friends will be one of your best assets … reach out … you’ll be surprised where you will find the support you need when you need it.
Over the years different things brought comfort at different stages of the disease. Some things helped caregivers provide better care – like a bulletin board with lots of family photos so they could get to know the person and their family through pictures. Often a doll or a stuffed animal will provide comfort. Or a fidget lap quilt. Or a music book with the lyrics of favorite songs. Picture books, puzzles, colouring books all provide activities that can be rewarding if chosen with care.
It’s important to accept things as they come and find blessings and count them … You can make “Gratitudes” part of each day. Put your best foot forward. Stay cheerful and calm. “One Day at a Time” became our motto when mother was diagnosed.
We were very blessed with being able to afford to extra help. Hiring companions made such a big difference I can’t imagine not having had their support and caring services. Where I live there are government programs that provide basic assistance to help people stay independent. What works for you will depend on how much one on one care you are able to provide yourself, what other family members or friends can do to help, and on your financial resources. Volunteer services may also be available.
Most larger centers have an Alzheimer’s Society … Common programs include support groups for family members who are learning to live with Alzheimer’s. Volunteer visitor programs and even things like touch quilt bees are also available in some cities. You can start your own group if there isn’t one in your community.
Find something in your community for “you” … A place where you can be yourself and not worry or think about Alzheimer’s. Something close by so it’s easy to attend. Something you enjoy! Even just coffee each Wednesday morning with a particularly good friend…. Take time for you! Spend time with friends!
Your family can also be a great help! For me, my sisters both no longer lived here and I have no children. I was pretty much on my own. Husband busy with work, and his own health issues.
When mother was first diagnosed I immersed myself in reading about the disease… There are many popular “fiction” books that tell personal stories … I found these to be especially helpful. The internet is of course a vast source of information. There are many websites that provide information on this disease.
There are lots of things you can do that can make your loved one’s life better. For instance, you could make a memory book, a fidget lap quilt or a song book … There is no one better than a family member to put a memory book together. Anyone can sew a fidget lap quilt… If I can, you can! One of dad’s caregiver’s put together his song book. Something that he enjoyed immensely. Pictures stimulate memory very strongly so even a small photo album of your loved ones parents, their children, themselves at various ages … you get the idea.
It’s Your Turn
to Care for Them!