As I get more familiar with the life of a blogger, I quickly realized that I need more structure. From now on, I decided to share a technical term every Wednesday. I am giving the normal human version of the technical term.
On the video below, I tell you my experience with sun downing and how sometimes we don’t recognize what this disease does. Leave your comments below, especially if you lived through this experience and any advice you have for us.
Today, we are going to talk about grief. Although my father died two months ago and I miss him very much, this is not the only process we are going through. We also have a family member who is going through dementia (Alzheimer’s to be exact). We love this person very much and yet, this person is not the same person we know.
How do you deal with the grief of losing a loved one when they have not died yet? They are still here in flesh and yet their spirit, what made them unique, is gone. You have a human being that has flashes of the old person, but you see less and less of them. It is difficult at times and it can be overwhelming. Some things to remember:
1) It is totally normal to feel this way. Any person that has ended a relationship or lived with a person with any life altering disease will tell you that there are moments when they miss the person they knew. Having said that, we move to…
2) There are resources available. If you can’t find any resources in your community, we are here to lend an ear (or in this case an eye). Talk to somebody, preferably a trained professional or join a support group. I would not suggest speaking to a friend at this particular time, especially if that friend does not know the person. They might not know how to deal with the situation. The words “at least she is still alive, enjoy her while you can” are not exactly helpful.
3) Do your research. There are plenty of sources of the internet not only about this particular situation, also about all the aspects of disease. It might help you to focus on care taking and it will help you process what is coming.
4) Keep a journal. Sometimes, feelings come and you don’t have a person available. Let it all out on the journal so that you can unburden your soul.
Above all else, keep an open mind and enjoy those few moments when your family member is acting like themselves. You might also want to get to know the new person that is emerging. It is true that this person might be in pain, or complains a lot or just does not seem to want to do anything more than sleep. There are still plenty of things you can do. In my case, ironically, one of my favorite things to do is feed my family member. I talk to her like she is still the same person and many times she responds. I know this might change at any moment. For now, it is the simple things. It is a marathon, not a sprint.
If you have any other suggestions or need help finding resources, leave your comment below.
As I move into this journey of blogging more regularly, I notice that I need some sort of organization. Just as I am using the day today to sort out all my paperwork for my mother and me, I need to take a little time to figure out what the main categories of the blog are going to be. For now, today is demented Wednesday. What does that even mean?
There is a suspicion that my mother might have dementia. Although studies of her brain have not uncovered any anomaly yet, something is making her act funny. There are days when I can have all kinds of conversations with her and then, there are days when she is convinced that she has back pain and nothing we do stops the pain. It is heartbreaking and emotional. It also makes some days longer than others.
I don’t remember when was the last time I had a couple of hours to myself. I feel like I am always working on something for someone else. I have a stack of around 100 magazines and books I would like to get to at some point in this lifetime. I feel guilty if I don’t spend more time with her. I feel guilty if I don’t take care of myself. I feel like nothing I am doing is correct and it is very frustrating.
Then I have a couple of days a week where we have a nurse that stops by and takes care of her for a few hours so that we can breathe. More often than not, we run errands. At the end of the day, I have not been able to finish anything. After a conversation with my daughter, we decided that I am going to cut my day into segments. One segment is for all the paperwork and orders we have not done yet. One segment is to hang out with her. The next segment is for some courses I registered for a while back and never got around to finish. Then the nurse gets here and I will take a segment for my other projects.
I hope that in the future, we will add day care to the mix and at least have a couple of days that I can take her somewhere to get her distracted. This way she can meet other people. She tends to do better when there are other people around. And so, between my day and her day, we don’t have a sane day anymore. Demented comes out of her possible condition as well as the hectic nature of my days lately.
So what challenges do you have when you take care of a loved one? Let us know in the comments section below.