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Finalist in the Santa Fe Writer's Project Literary Awards, Eric Hoffer First Horizon Awards, Reader's Favorite Awards and Indie Excellence Awards

How to Survive as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

How did I cope as an Alzheimer’s caregiver? How indeed. I had no idea how to survive the following years, but little by little I discovered things that helped tremendously. I want to share with you the events and situations that saved me, hoping they may help you as well.

I Got Help From the Alzheimer’s Association: The Alzheimer’s Association helped me immeasurably. They had an online coaching service and I emailed my coach on a daily basis.

I Kept a Journal: Keeping the journal became a creative outlet in its own right. It later formed the basis for my uplifting, award-winning book, Come Back Early Today: A Memoir of Love, Alzheimer’s and Joy. Alzheimer’s. Caregivers who have read it say it was very helpful to them. Previous caregivers say they wish they’d had it when they were caregivers.

I Learned How to Get Along With Ed Better: A friend had life-saving advice for me: Don’t bring up topics that might upset Ed, If he does get upset, change the subject quickly, and Don’t argue, correct or contradict him. When I finally mastered these tips, our arguments decreased considerably and our relationship returned more or less to its former loving state.

I Took up a Hobby About Which I Became Passionate: One day I wandered aimlessly around Best Buy until I came to the camera section. I ended up buying one. The best thing about my new hobby was that time stood still when I was doing “a shoot.” It took my mind completely off Ed and his condition.

I Made Peace With Alzheimer’s: It’s one thing to admit a loved one has Alzheimer’s. It’s another entirely to accept the diagnosis in your heart. One day I started taking Ed stuffed animals. He loved them. We started playing games with them and giggled like a mother playing with her little toddler. One day I realized a profound change had taken place in my heart. I became aware that I had accepted his condition and I had found a way to relate to him. A way that was satisfying for both of us.

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One Response to “How to Survive as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver”

  1. Eileen Stock says:

    Marie, May I address you by your first name? After reading Come Back Early Today, I feel like we are kindred spirits. Thank you for writing this wonderful book. I am caring for both my parents in Assisted Living, Dad sounds very much like your Ed! Always holding caregivers hands, telling them how much he appreciates them, and how happy he is to be there. I recognize that he too has the need to be touched, and loved. And you’re right, you just need to be present to them in their world.
    I’m feeling all the feelings and emotions you had, it’s comforting to know that they’re normal. I was wondering if you get to the stage of feeling like “thank goodness that’s all behind me now” even though the hard realty is you don’t have Ed anymore. I feel that way when I think back to having to make that decision to place my parents in assisted living, when i think back to having to take the car away, when we had to move Dad down to the Alzheimer’s neighborhood. I feel like each one of those events were so draining and exhausting and challenging, for them and for me, sometimes I’m just glad we’re past that. But having said that, it means that there is just another stage that we are going to have to get through, and ultimately, the end.
    I am sorry for your loss, that must have been a hellish year for you, but thank you for sharing.
    Warm regards,
    Eileen Stock

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