Staying positive when a loved one has Dementia/Alzheimer is TOUGH!

 

alzhiemers-page-001Watching a loved one fail in health is heart wrenching.  I love my mom with all my heart and if possible would move the world for her. My mother was and still is a strong & loving woman, who beat cancer twice.  About 35 years ago she had colon cancer that was misdiagnosed as hemorrhoids, but thankfully another doctor decided to run one more test.  She then underwent surgery and they removed 8″ of her intestines.  About 3 years ago she was diagnosed with stage 4a small cell lung cancer, a very fast growing type of cancer. Chemo was rough, but she made it.  Preventive radiation treatments were administered on her brain to keep cancer from going there.  These treatments are partially to blame for her present condition of Dementia/Alzheimer w/seizures.I believe this disease is harder on her in so many ways. The most upsetting to her is, she knows that something is wrong.  It frustrates her when she forgets things.

I’m going to give you the medical meaning of these diseases.  A short idea how it effects families, and I will also give you some methods to cope.  My intention is not to draw attention to me or my family, but ways to cope.

Medical Definition of Alzheimer’s & Dementia disease http://ads.pubmatic.com/AdServer/js/showad.js#PIX&kdntuid=1&p=26151

 Alzheimer’s disease: A progressive degenerative disease of the brain that leads to dementia. On a cellular level, Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the finding of unusual helical protein filaments in nerve cells of the brain. These twisted filaments are called neurofibrillary tangles. In the brain, Alzheimer’s disease involves degeneration of the cortical regions, especially the frontal and temporal lobes. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but new medications and therapies appear to slow its progress and improve the patient’s ability to function.

Dementia is a broad description which includes many different symptoms, including memory loss, word-finding difficulties, impaired judgment, and problems with day-to-day activities, which are caused by injury or loss of brain cells (neurons).

From what I have read it is better for the patient & family (if possible), to be home.  It is suggested to make sure you can get some help or you will burn out.

I’m going to call the patient (mom) from here on out as it is easier for me.

My sisters and I, have discovered that mom has so many mood swings.  Some of these moods swing anywhere from happy to mean (mom never was a mean person).  Sometimes she gets mad at my dad for not being there (he passed away over 3 yrs ago).  Her mind might be in the present or back to her childhood or ours. Sometimes we cannot get her to wake up; she wants to sleep. Then we worry if she is ok or not. This is all compounded by COPD & MRSA Pneumonia.

This disease is emotionally hard on mom & our family.  On one of mom’s stays in the hospital, I found her sobbing because she thought we were going to put her in a nursing home.  You can imagine how hard it would be to see your mother crying.  I reassured her that we were not going to send her to a nursing home.  Thank goodness I have understanding bosses, because I called off.  No way was I leaving my mom in such a low state of mind. This happened a short time before being diagnosed.

My youngest sister lives with my mom. Mom went through a short spell of refusing all medications even her breathing treatments. My sister checked on mom one evening during this time, and mom took her by the hand & asked her where her friend Lisa was, because she didn’t have too much time left & wanted Lisa to be there to support my sister.  She then told my sister she would take her breathing treatments, because she didn’t want her to feel guilty about anything.  I cried all the way to work because sometimes people do know when their time is up.  I debated should I go to work or should I stay home.  That evening she started to do some better.  One never knows.

My sisters each have had their fair share of crying also.  It’s very hard on each of us, because we have always been close and it’s hard to watch your love one suffer. On the bright side, mom also has good days.  We have learned to enjoy the good days and tolerate the bad days.

Here are some ways I found to be positive:

  • Turn it over to GOD! Psalms 55:22 – Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
    • Pray for God’s will to be done, not yours
    • Pray for God to comfort her
    • Pray that she will not suffer
    • Pray he will be merciful with her
    • Pray for caring doctors, nurses, caregivers, family
  • Laughter – whenever we can lighten the mood and make mom laugh she does so much better & so do we! Proverbs 17:22 KJV A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.
  • Don’t talk to her like she dumb, talk respectfully! Ephesians 6:2 KJV – Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;
  • Take time to listen
    • Sit on the bed
    • Hold & rub hand
    • Don’t argue
    • Don’t raise your voice
    • Sometimes you just have to go along with her and say I know, I know & soothe her
  • Whatever you do, DO NOT take it personally
    • Remember she is still your mother, who loved you and cared for you ALL YOUR life
    • She is sometimes trapped in her mind & very, very frightened
    • She needs you
    • She loves you
    • She needs to be re insured of your love
    • She wants to feel safe, loved & cared for
  • Never feel that it is a duty to care for your mother.  Duty makes it a job!  Love makes it from your heart.  Love makes it easier for them and for YOU!.
  • Children-Don’t be afraid to let children visit.  Most patients love children, they brighten their moods.  Mom just loves her grandchildren.
  • Don’t feel guilty if you occasionally get a little down hearted, you are human!!!

I sincerely hope this blog has helped someone to cope, even if it isn’t the same disease your love one has.

Do any of you have any suggestions to give to loved ones/caregivers?  Maybe how to acquire support & help?  Things you may know & want to share. PLEASE comment below, it would be a blessing to anyone who is going through this.

 

 

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