Alzheimer’s disease is one of the significant causes of death in America. This illness is progressive, and no medication or treatment can prevent, cure, or slow it down. According to Alzheimer’s Association, some patients in Eagle Mountain live for eight years on average after being diagnosed, while others can live for 20 years, depending on their health condition and age.
Caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s is a long, stressful road that will test your patience, flexibility, and compassion. Here are some things you can do to ease your frustration while taking the caregiving journey:
1. Understand the disease
Learn more about Alzheimer’s so that you can anticipate potential challenges and create realistic expectations. Some people think that the condition is a normal part of aging, and the patient suffers from expected memory loss. But it’s not just about memory. As the disease progresses, it impairs the patient’s physical ability, judgment, language, and overall functioning. Your mom might forget how to eat, sleep, get dressed, and bathe herself, which means she needs daily assistance and 24-hour care. The disease also changes her personality, and she can be rude, angry, irritable, and stubborn over time. When symptoms get worse, you can be forced to visit a walk-in urgent care clinic to get the external support that you need.
2. Accept that you can’t do it alone
When caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s, you suffer from stress, frustration, depression, and fatigue. You might also withdraw from social activities because of the challenging demands of caregiving. But self-care is crucial to prevent you from being burn-out or being hospitalized. Give yourself a break by asking family members to take turns in caring for your mom. Remember that you are dealing with a family disease. Although AD only affects your parents, you and the rest of the family members become its second victims. If you are an only child, it’s a good idea to hire a home health care nurse, so you get an extra pair of hands. A nurse can assist with necessary activities such as eating, bathing, dressing, and moving around.
Also, consider finding a local support group so you can meet people who are traveling the same journey. Their stories can reassure you, and their presence can lessen your feelings of fear, hopelessness, and isolation.
3. Do not take your parent’s behavior personally
Your mom can become totally out of character and show sudden mood changes. She has always been soft-spoken, but suddenly she bursts into rude comments using foul words. She might throw you insults and call you names. Getting hurt is a normal emotional response, but remind yourself that it’s not your parent’s language; it’s the disease. Her outbursts might be caused by her inability to communicate or understand. Treat her with kindness and respect because, like you, she is frightened and frustrated.
Alzheimer’s might be the teacher you never wished you had. But it teaches you valuable life lessons about selflessness, patience, and compassion. Your mom might have lost her memories and abilities, but she never lost her loving child.