Archive for November 2014

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The Critical Question All Alzheimer’s Caregivers Should Ask Themselves

Friday, November 28th, 2014

Sometimes we suffer more than the person with Alzheimer’s. That’s because, in part, people with Alzheimer’s disease typically live mostly in the present.

That’s one of the less dreadful things about this disease. People with dementia typically quickly forget unpleasant things that happen to them and upset them terribly.

But caregivers don’t easily and quickly forget painful things that happen to their loved one. They suffer because they think their loved one is still distressed.

Here’s the critical question all Alzheimer’s caregivers should ask themselves when they are upset about something related to their loved one:

 “Is the issue bothering my loved one?”

 If not, that’s what’s important. We shouldn’t let it bother us either.

An example was when Ed was moved to another room in the nursing home where he was living.

When I arrived to visit him a few hours after the move, he kept saying over and over in a plaintive tone to voice, “I want to go home.”

He made this mournful request to every single person who passed by. I was distressed because Ed was suffering.

Much to my surprise, however, when I arrived to visit the next day he had forgotten all about it. He didn’t once ask to go home.

He was functioning as though he hadn’t been moved at all. Nonetheless that urgent plea reverberated in my mind and caused me great emotional pain for days afterward.

Again, I was the one who was suffering – not he.

 

Sometimes We Suffer More Than the Person With Alzheimer’s

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Once Ed was moved to a new room at his nursing home. I went out to visit him to see how he was adjusting.

 “I want to go home,” Ed kept repeating plaintively to me and everyone who passed by.

I felt faint and terribly guilty. I felt as though I’d ripped him away from everything that had become familiar to him. From what he’d come to accept as his ‘home.’

The instant I woke up the next morning I heard Ed’s melancholy voice in my head, repeating over and over, “I want to go home.”

Then I went out to visit Ed again.

“How’s he doing today?” I asked the aide, expecting the worst.

“Oh, he’s fine,” she said with a little laugh. “He stopped asking to go home.”

“He what?” I asked, stupefied.

“Yeah. He’s already forgotten he was moved and he’s settled into his new room as though nothing’s changed.

I stopped in my tracks and let her statements sink in.

“I guess that may be one of the benefits of dementia. You quickly forget painful things that happen to you,” I said, mostly to myself.

This just goes to show that sometimes we suffer more than the person with Alzheimer’s.

 

 

Life After Alzheimer’s

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Here’s my story of life after Alzheimer’s.

Two weeks after Ed died, I was offered the dream job I’d interviewed for in Kansas City. My new life was tremendously challenging and took my mind off my loss as much as anything could.

When I arrived in Kansas City and moved into the house I’d rented, I hung two photos of Ed over my dresser. Both bring me comfort when they catch my eye as I’m crossing the room.

As time went by I started several activities that gave new meaning to my life. First I wrote a book. Later I began blogging about Alzheimer’s caregiving on the Huffington Post and the Alzheimer’s Reading Room.

Next I began visiting ladies with Alzheimer’s in a local memory care facility. I enjoy my visits and I receive so much more than I give.

I still miss Ed sometimes. I wish he could see my lovely new home and know about my new job. I wish I could hear him say, “Marvelous, Marie! Superb! What a wonderful new house and job.” I guess I’ll just have to settle for feeling it in my heart.

3 Tips for Surviving Alzheimer’s Caregiving

Friday, November 7th, 2014

I want to share with you the events and situations that helped me cope, hoping they may help you as well.

  1. I Kept a Journal

I chronicled my visits to Ed, his gradual decline, my feelings, and my day to day activities. It gave me a way to document my caregiving journey and to remember the positive events as well as the negative ones.

  1. I Learned How to Get Along With Ed Better

As Ed’s dementia progressed he became extremely difficult to get along with. A social worker friend gave me 3 pieces of advice:

–       Don’t bring up topics that might upset Ed

–       If he does get upset, change the subject quickly

–       Don’t argue, correct or contradict him

When I finally mastered these tips, our arguments decreased considerably.

  1. I Took up a Hobby About Which I Became Passionate

I took up photography and developed a specialty – taking close up photos of single stem flowers against black backgrounds. The best thing about my new hobby was that time stood still when I was doing “a shoot.” This was the key to its value. It took my mind completely off Ed and his condition. It kept me from wallowing in my grief.