Alzheimer’s is a very cruel disease!  It robs not only the person afflicted with it of anything resembling a normal life, but, over time,  it also severely impacts the caregiver.

I’ve been away from home the last week and a half, trying to help my sister meet my stepfather’s needs.  He is 90 years old, and in the later stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.

She has been caring for him, and for our disabled mom, for quite awhile now, and it has seriously impacted her own physical and emotional well-being.  After a serious illness, our mom is in a convalescent hospital.  This adds new issues to deal with, but my sister’s “hands-on” caregiving is a bit lighter in that regard.  Unfortunately, our stepfather has entered a new phase of his disease, and has periods of great agitation, which are very difficult to deal with for a family member who is already worn out.

I’m writing this blog post in the hopes that it will reach those who need support for themselves, or information on how to better meet the needs of their loved ones.  We are learning as we go along, but if we had known more resources and had additional information, etc. earlier, we could have saved ourselves some of the struggle we’ve had.

Our stepfather has gotten to the stage that he needs to go into a facility, where they have the staff and the training to know how best to deal with his outbursts of anger and frustration.  My sister has done an amazing job of caring for him, but his needs are now beyond her ability.  I came up here with the idea of getting him into a facility as soon as possible, but we’ve found out that is going to be extremely difficult without his co-operation.

If you, or anyone you know, is in a similar situation, or may be at some future time, please do yourself a great favor, and get all the information you can ahead of time.  Try not to wait until it’s a crisis situation!

Here are links to some of the websites that might be helpful:  1) There are elder care attorneys, who specialize in handling the legalities of dealing with dementia issues.  2)  Alzheimer’s Association is a wonderful resource for information and support groups for those with Alzheimer’s or for their caregivers.  3)  Department of Health and Human Services provides a website called Eldercare Locator, which connects you to services in your area.  4)  Adult Protective Services may be able to help if there are issues of self-neglect.  5)  If you live in California, there is a very helpful resource called California Caregiver Resource Center, located in many areas of the state.

This is not an all-inclusive list, but it will help you get started.  Talk with the people you know about the reality of the situation that you’re dealing with.  It’s surprising how many people have reached out to help us when they realized the difficulties we were having.  People generally want to help when they can.  Someone that you talk with might have some good information or be able to connect you with someone else who does.

Remember self-care!  I can not emphasize this enough!!  If you do not take care of yourself, and recognize your limits, you will physically and emotionally burn out.  Then who will be there for your loved one?

There are excellent support groups around most areas.  They can help you not feel so alone, and give you some tips on how to handle common areas of difficulty.  If you can possibly afford to hire some additional help, even for a few hours a week, it can give you an opportunity to get away and relax for awhile — and breathe easier.  Let friends and other family members help when they offer.  Give them concrete ideas for ways to help.  If offers are not forthcoming, you may need to stretch your comfort zone and ask for help from those closest to you.

Please forward this post to anyone you know that might find it helpful.  If we all reach out to each other with caring support, life will be much easier for all of us.  If you have any additional suggestions for resources, or if you have struggled with a similar situation and have learned helpful suggestions, please let me know.  You can leave a comment on this post, or you can email me at linda@counselinginsb.com.  Thank you so much.

Until next time,

Linda

2 Comments

  • Linda, thank you for sharing and helping all of us with dealing emotionally and physically with this difficult situation with those we love. Even if we do not have parents in this situation now..it is good to hear how to understand more about others around us dealing with this, all to common, health situation in life. My heart goes out to you and appreciate you thinking of all of us too during this hard time with family members. Hopefully we will all have this gentle strength and grace when also dealing with these family crises.

  • Thank you, Teri. You are so kind. Even if people don’t have a similar situation, they may know someone who does. It is very common, and I’m afraid it’s going to become even more common as we all age. Any time we are part of a family, too, we run the risk of having some type of family crisis. The more proactive we can be, the better.

    I believe we are all inter-connected, so the more we reach out to each other, the better it is for all of us.

    Linda

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