Spending 30 plus years with a person, making plans for the future, considering what car to buy, sharing pleasure and concerns...now you still share a home but you can no longer share a conversation with this person. Now, you find that you must protect him/her from your concerns and questions. You must present a calm demeanor at all times or he/she will sense your indecision and become troubled, agitated and uncooperative.
Find out more the second Monday of each month at Statesboro First Methodist Church. Call 1-800-272-3900 for details.
The person you knew so well and trusted with your deepest thoughts has developed the brain disease, Alzheimer's type dementia. Perhaps you saw that he/she was not as "sharp" as he/she had been and was beginning to become confused in unfamiliar surroundings. Perhaps you noticed that he/she was making more careless mistakes with counting money or dealing with bills. Perhaps you thought he/she was becoming lazy about their personal care and began forgetting appointments.
Enter the life of a spouse or relative caring for a person with increasing neurological deficits. With over 70% of caregivers taking care of the memory loss patient at home for many years, often 4 to 14 years, there are hundreds of people in the area who are living with these challenges daily.
The family caregiver will find other people who understand their concerns, questions and anxiety as they work through the changes in their relationships with the impaired person.
During a recent support group meeting, a wife shares how she had to learn to do home maintenance tasks while her husband was asleep to keep him from becoming extremely confused and angry because he could not remember the sequence.
A man tells the group that he and his wife no longer eat at home because the wife kept getting upset when she couldn't prepare a meal and wouldn't let the husband try to help her.
A son tells about having to take over the bill paying when his mother kept bouncing checks because she forgot to deposit the income from her rental units.
Stress triggers for patients and caregivers include: repetitive questions/requests, isolation from friends who stop visiting because they "don't want to see him/her like that", fear of failure, fear of losing control of emotions, inability to have a meaningful conversation, accumulative effect of lack of sleep, excess noise and movement, unresolved pain and fear of the future.
Strategies for enlisting useful assistance through a support group, through phone or internet, through friends/family/church/community/medications will all be discussed during the August 11 support group meeting at Statesboro First United Methodist Church, 1:30-3:00, room 200. All caregivers are encouraged to attend as they are able. The group is affiliated with the National Alzheimer's Association and is led by a former caregiver.
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