As caregivers, the first thing to go is the time, or even the energy and desire, to maintain friendships. Even maintaining friendships that go back years can seem like just one more thing to do when a caregiver is so swamped with demands. So, caregivers stop seeing friends, hence friends stop asking them to do anything fun. Friends get tired of being turned down. And caregivers forget that life was once fun. They are too busy giving care to everyone else to even notice the loss.
...I am aware that many people under age 65 need assistance from their adult children or other sources because of health problems. That being said, having arthritis or heart issues, for example, doesn’t make a person cognitively impaired. Therefore, when we offer to help in these situations, the elders’ opinions and wishes must be taken into consideration. I know only too well that watching our parents get older is difficult. Ideally, they were once our anchors. No matter how difficult life became, there was comfort in knowing that our parents were around, even if they were half way across the country. Now, when we see their joints needing replacement, their skin wrinkling, perhaps even their memory recall slowing, we cringe. Whether or not we wish to admit it, we are afraid. We know that our parents are not immortal. One day we will be without them.
One of the positive parts of being a family caregiver is the opportunity for emotional growth. We can develop increased compassion, patience, and tolerance, as well as humor. Yes, we often shed tears over our loved one’s illness and often over our feelings of powerlessness. But humor may be the saving grace that keeps us from drowning in sorrow. Some situations, of course, leave no room for laughter. But some tough times can offer moments of levity if we choose to recognize them. My sister, Beth, and I experienced what to some people may be a rather macabre situation during the three days our mother was going through the death process. If we hadn’t maintained our senses of humor, I’m not sure how we would have handled those sad, seemingly endless days.
The stories in this fine book showed us how others have gone through similar things with their families and that is somehow reassuring. There are some helpful suggestions but mostly there is the recognition that others went through the same thing. All we can do is our best. That is greatly reassuring during these difficult emotional times. If you are a caregiver, this is a must read. - Delores Edwards
Sadly, even after years of work to educate the public about any illness that affects the brain, a stigma remains. No matter that most, if not all, mental illnesses have a biological basis. No matter that people aren’t any more responsible for a brain illness than they are for other illnesses. The fact remains that whether the disease affects the brain occurs at a younger age in the form of depression or bi-polar disease or an older age in the form of Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, people with brain illnesses are often reluctant to acknowledge their illness for fear of being treated differently than others. There has been some progress when it comes to enlightening the public, but not nearly enough.
An amazing book of stories that will touch your heart and encourage you, especially if you are a caregiver. Carol Bradley Bursack also has an excellent web site devoted to the elderly and their caregivers. - Carol Heilman
Wouldn't it be nice to be a caregiver who had only loving thoughts every moment of the caregiving day? Maybe there are caregivers like that. If you are one of them, I truly congratulate you. Most of us who have been through years of caregiving will not fall into that category. Here's a sampling of caregiver thoughts that I've heard people talk about. You'll likely feel better just reading them.
Many dementia caregivers feel as though they are treading water just to avoid sinking under the often exhausting pressures associated with dementia care. But consciously changing your attitude can, with practice, significantly change how your days, and those of your loved one, unfold. Here are some tips to get started.
Dear Carol: My mother has severe spine and knee problems and should be using a walker but she refuses. She’s only in her 60s and she says a walker makes her look old. She also complains that a walker keeps her from getting close enough to the cupboards and sink to cook, which is something that she loves. I admit that they are bulky and get in the way. They also keep her from carrying dishes around and I understand that. Still, she’s taking a terrible chance. When she’s having a lot of trouble she will use a cane, but that doesn’t do enough. Her mind is fine but, apparently, her ego just can’t take this blow. I know that she fights pain, but the worst seems to be her bitterness over her disability being seen by others as well as the inconvenience of using a walker. How do I convince her that safety is more important than some inconvenience or presenting a youthful look? CD
Too much emphasis on the negative aspects of aging has encouraged society to believe that all older people are on the verge of dementia and a drain on families and the economy rather than a treasured resource of wisdom and experience. Yes, aging brains think differently. Recall slows and those frustrating times when a word escapes the aging brain become more frequent. Aging bodies may become more prone to disease, causing these little cognitive slips to arouse even more suspicion among family members.
When it comes to Alzheimer's Disease (AD), the sad reality is that there is no cure. But a significant number of people have an increased risk due to genetics, and everyone has an increased risk as they age...What do we do, just give up and give in? Or do we look for ways that may give us a better chance to get through our last years without signs and symptoms of this devastating disease? I say let’s fight. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have determined that winning may be possible. Some people will develop the disease no matter what they do but, according to these researchers’ latest study, there are everyday factors that may influence our risk of developing dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s.
Whether or not it’s a conscious thought, many of us look at a new year as a time to make changes in our lives. We become energized for a few days. However, most of us are quickly caught up in routine. Whether or not we like the routine, it’s familiar, and the status quo often provides the path of least resistance. Therefore, even if we’re stuck in a life that’s not satisfying, we stay with the familiar. Change seems too hard. This is a glaring truth that most caregivers recognize.