Monday, September 24, 2012

Anger of the caregiver.

I was at a Gideon's meeting tonight and one of our members had a prayer request for himself.  He said his wife had Alzheimer's and that he had issues being angry with her over her disease and the situations it presents.  He was frustrated with his situation and with himself and Linda and I understood.

I talked with him after our meeting and told him I had Dementia also and my wife had many of the same issues.  I also recommended the local Alzheimer's Support group.  He was not interested.  Why, because he wants to do this on his own!

That's not abnormal for many men and women who are of a "Type A" personality.  When something happens that we cannot fix, we immediately get angry and make even more attempts to fix the issue, each time getting more frustrated.  The "Type A" personality will never give up but will get more and more frustrated until he breaks!

Help, professional help, is the issue but it is seldom accepted.  Now I write from experience since I and my wife are "Type A" personality individuals and neither of us likes to ask for help.  But, we did attend an Alzheimer's Association support group and it did give us some insight.  But we did not take advantage of the help in depth.  But realize, this is a brutal disease that impacts both the sufferer and the caregiver!  And that impact is negative, immediate, and everlasting!  There is no cure for the disease or the mental anguish for the caregiver!

So, outside, professional, help is recommended not only by those who are educated in this area but by me!  I had a neurologist asked me how I was dealing with my disease.  I told her I thought I was doing well and she immediately said; "No your not!"  It shocked me.  Not her abruptness but her correctness.  I had been fooling myself, smiling through the tough times, keeping a stiff upper lip, toughing it out, what ever phrase you use to cover up your fear, desperation, and depression!

I know what people want to hear, I know the "proper" responses, and I can put forth a facade of being normal.  But, inside, I know I am not  the way I used to be and the changes terrify me!  The physical weakness, lack of energy,loss of motor skills, and lack of stability in walking.  The mental issues of loss of my short term memory, inability to select the correct word, fear, getting lost, and the overwhelming feeling of doom.  Yes, Dementia, in any name, is a devastating diagnosis.

But look at the disease from the care giver's point of view.  The one they were planning on traveling with in retirement, the one who they walk on the beach with, the one the caregiver has spent his or her life with is now gone or at least going.  Yes, leaving!  Oh yes, the sufferer is still there, physically, but not mentally!  And it is the mental part of our loved one that we interact with and love.  So that loss is the most traumatic part for the caregiver.

So, again, outside professional help is not only needed, it is required if the caregiver is going to survive the ordeal mentally and possibly physically!  Stress can induce strokes or heart attacks for those who are in a weakened state!

Another issue is providing a break for the caregiver!  There are memory support units that provide daily or weekly respite care and I recommend that for every caregiver.  I know my wife is refreshed by outings out without me or worry about me.

So, tonight's interface with another family suffering the pain of Alzheimer's.   Presently dealing with their condition unsuccessfully!  But maybe, our interface will encourage them to seek assistance.  They still have a long journey ahead of them.

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