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.