This is dedicated to anyone who has lost a mother or father to Alzheimer’s. This is a painful loss for families and the journey is extremely difficult. Loss is most often associated with a physical death. However, many individuals and families are mourning losses which arise from other means. Catastrophic injury, chronic illness, and progressive and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s catapult millions on to the grief journey each year.
Losing a loved one to Alzheimer’s and Dementia is devastating. Family and close friends are usually the first to see the subtle and startling changes brought about by these diseases. The changes begin slowly and often people from the outside looking in, don’t realize or understand the difficulty that the person and their family are having. In this aspect, the process is reminiscent of my experience in brain injury.
Families struggling to cope with cognitive changes in a love one are at risk for burnout and their own health problems as they advocate for services and provide care for the person. As well, they attempt to make sense of what is happening in their life and their loved one’s life: “Why us?” “Why them?” “Why now?” They questions are normal as we search for meaning in our losses. Although the person is here in the physical form, the very essence of who they are slowly disappears and it’s heartbreaking.
Self-care is critically important to those providing care. You are the one person your loved one has come to rely up. If you burnout and/or put your personal health at risk, elf-care is critically important to those providing care. You are the one person your loved one has come to rely up. If you burnout and/or put your personal health at risk, you will not only be unable to care for your loved one, you won’t enjoy quality of life for yourself.
There is tremendous support for families caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Begin today by visiting www.alzheimer.ca or www.alz.org. There is a plethora of information available online; however, having conversations with those who have experience with these devastating diseases will be beneficial.