Somewhere in America, a caregiver says, "I had that sinking feeling that people have when a disaster or train wreck occurs. I just felt my whole world turned upside down after my mom died and I became the instant caregiver for my dad. Mom never let me know how much day to day help Dad needed. What do I do now? I want to say, stop the train and let me get off! I am not ready to take on this new job as Dad's caregiver, I had plans for something else."
Right here in Statesboro, there is help. Plan to attend a support group for Alzheimer's type dementia caregivers and become informed about the disease, meet others who know just what you are experiencing, and find the way through the maze toward a satisfying new relationship and new role. Call 1-800-272-3900 for the 24 Hour Helpline number of the Alzheimer's Association.
Seeing your loved one begin to gradually lose their memory and seeing your own life changing due to their neurological disease is a situation faced by over 120,000 FAMILIES in Georgia today. For every patient diagnosed with dementia, there are likely at least that many families attempting to understand the unusual behaviors and perceptions of a family member with undiagnosed dementia. Combat feelings of isolation and loneliness. Meet with other caregivers the 2nd Monday of each month at 1:30 at Statesboro First Methodist Church.
The Alzheimer's Association reminds families that it is normal to feel loss when you care about someone who has Alzheimer's. It's also normal to feel guilty, abandoned and angry. You're entitled to these emotions and may start to experience them as soon as you learn of the diagnosis. The patient may very likely also go through these stages of denial, anger, guilt, and sadness. A caregiver may well find it very difficult to address their own emotions while trying to empathize with the person suffering the disease.
Depression is a very real concern for both patient and caregiver when confronted with a long term, degenerative neurological illness with no cure available. No surgery, no radiation, no physical therapy will restore the person you knew. With Alzheimer's dementia, there will be periods of time when the person appears to be recovering his skills and abilities and then the gradual loss of abilities will continue. Peaks and valleys occur but the person is on a downward slide toward needing help with personal care if death from some other cause does not intervene.
Caregivers talking with other caregivers often say that just knowing that someone else is struggling with the changes in the family relationships brought on by this neurological illness seems to help. No tow caregivers will face the exact same issues but there are many behavioral and perceptual changes that are common with AD. The Alzheimer's Association has been serving families since 1980 and have accumulated a great deal of information that will be shared during support group meetings.
While addressing caregiver guilt, it is common to have unrealistic expectations of yourself, with thoughts such as "I should have done...I must do everything for him/her..." It is not unusual to feel bad because you're still able to enjoy life experiences and the ill person cannot. The main caregiver may resent the other family members who do not have day to day interactions with the ill person and yet always seem to have suggestions or criticisms to share.
Many caregivers find that attending support groups, writing in a journal and developing a plan for exercise and spiritual renewal regularly makes caregiving a labor of love in which they can find personal meaning and growth.
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