Giving my site a purpose

Not sure about this idea, but maybe it will help others in my situation. I’d like to devote this part of my site to helping caregivers who deal with a family member who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Maybe some shared stories and ideas will help others to cope with this terrible disease. Worth a try anyway.

My Dad passed away last May and my Mum has Alzheimer’s, so I had to drop my life and move in with her to care for her. The only other choice was to put her in a home, which would have killed her after just losing my Dad after 58 years together. Living with a person with Alzheimer’s brings difficult challenges, especially when it’s someone you know so well. It’s tough to watch them waste away slowly. My Dad was really struggling with being her caregiver. He had little patience and constantly blew up at her, always saying “I’ve told you ten times!”, which, of course, doesn’t work with an Alzheimer’s patient. I have learned unbelievable patience since I took on the responsibility, but it’s hard. My Dad believed he had to be here 24/7 to care for her, but this drove him nuts. He waited on her hand and foot, and expected nothing of her. Other than the Alzheimer’s she is perfectly healthy and capable of many things. I did things a little differently, like not serving her like a slave. She got her own coffee and breakfast (no cooking, of course) and I expected her to do whatever she was capable of in my mind. She responded well, putting on twenty-five pounds and becoming more independent in the process. But there are still challenges, mostly that they say Alzheimer’s patients take it out on the one they love, and this is very true with my Mum. She blows at me for nothing, and can be very cruel, which is not like her at all. I’ve been thrown out at least twenty times so far. People keep telling me to not take it personally, but that’s easy to say, hard to do.

Anyway, I’d like to make this a forum for people in my situation to vent a little and offer any constructive suggestions they have for others. For example, I got her a “Memory Board” – a write on/wipe off white board on which I write important stuff to remember, so that she doesn’t ask me ten times. If she has a doctor’s appointment I write the day and time on the board. It’s simple but it works. If there’s anything that comes up during the day that she has asked me a couple of times about, I write it on the board for her.

I guess another purpose here is to share thoughts with other people who know what caring for an Alzheimer’s patient is really like. So many of my friends say they understand how difficult it must be, but they really don’t know unless they have experienced it first hand. There’s also come practical suggestions we can use. For example, I made all of the arrangements for my Dad’s service, which we held in the mobile home park where he lived for thirty years. My Dad wanted no tears, so we had a celebration of his life. Lots of pictures, food, music and laughter and everyone who came out said it was how they wanted to be remembered too. The next day my Mum asked if she was there? She couldn’t remember even being there, let alone anything that happened. No one, including me, thought to video tape the service for her to watch and remember. Very tragic and such a simple solution.

If you are in a similar situation, please share your thoughts with us.