Monday, May 29, 2017
Stand By Me - Precious Memories 23
It all started with this post.
A year ago, Memorial Day weekend, I began sharing my personal experience with Alzheimer's.
Maybe you are here, right now reading through some of my posts as you stand by feeling helpless. Maybe you are watching friends or family members wear themselves out, as they cope with a diagnosis (dementia or otherwise).
Maybe you are the weary one.
Whether they care for a loved one at home, or have the help of a facility, they still need your support.
I was completely unprepared for the level of exhaustion that came with my mom's diagnosis. I was worn out mentally, emotionally, and physically. Decisions had to be made daily, sometimes multiple times a day. Care plans readjusted. Doctors and staff meetings, bills paid.....all while my heart was shattering.
Time for me in a sense stopped. I was still trying to maintain an emotional connection with her. I struggled to balance the chaotic details that came as part of this disease. Stanford University once reported that 41% of Alzheimer's disease caregivers die from stress-related disorders, before the patient dies.
Caregivers have a 63% higher mortality rate than non-caregivers. This is serious business.
There are all kinds of websites that show various statistics for caregivers, and most are startling. They need someone to stand by them. It is a lonely road. You not only lose your loved one, but you lose your sense of normal. Your social life takes a hit, because you become so engrossed with care. It's easy to feel isolated and forgotten.
Receiving a "thinking of you" card or a quick email, letting me know that I was still in someone's prayers, or on their mind, was such an encouragement to me. One of my sweet friends in another state, sent me a Starbucks gift card, just so I could grab a cup of coffee. Having a little something out of the ordinary to look forward to, made a difference.
Because most days, what you are facing in the future is nothing to look forward to.
If you find yourself able and willing, please offer as much support as you can. You would be amazed at how much a healthy, home cooked meal would be appreciated. Families in a situation like this, tend to neglect their own needs. I barely had time to make a grocery list, much less cook a decent meal. All of my spare time and energy, was devoted to my mom and her well being. I was working full time, caring for a spouse who at that time wasn't yet properly diagnosed, and then there was Alzheimer's.
If you want to help but are short on ideas - I have a few for you. Offer to clean the house, or pay for a trustworthy cleaning service. Offer to mow the lawn, pick up the mail or newspaper, shovel the snow, fill up a gas tank, take the car for an oil change. Walk the pets, take them to the groomer. If small children are a consideration, offer to shuttle them to school or activities. Take the kids to the park.
I'm not suggesting that you personally PAY for these errands - but just offer to run them. Pick up take out if you don't cook or give a gift card so the family can order in.
The point is, just offer. Even if you get turned down, I assure you, the fact that you offered means a lot. There are so many little things that become big things for us, when we are spending every spare moment with our loved one.
Most of all, just love us and please remember to not be offended if we are no longer "fun".
We are grieving.
We are focused on saying goodbye.
We don't mean to be self-absorbed but we are living a nightmare.
We are processing and trying to wrap our brain around what is taking place.
We are tired and overwhelmed. We are numb.
We are sad and angry at the same time.
We are hurting.
We simply need you to remember us.
*The Precious Memories posts you read here, are dedicated to my mother who battled Alzheimer's. I share snippets of our story, and some things I learned along the way.
You can start reading our story from the beginning here:
Precious Memories 1
You can read my last Precious Memories post here:
Thinking Back On Mother's Day - Precious Memories 22