Trying to Find the Blessings Amidst the Suffering of Alzheimer’s

As CAREgivers at CARE, Inc., we are all very trained and used to seeing with – and dealing with patients with Alzheimer's. Despite the heartbreaking and often frustrating moments that we see between the family members and the patients who suffer from Alzheimer's Disease, sometimes we must remind ourselves and the families of the many blessings that can be seen from an outsider’s perspective.

Yes, it is majorly disappointing to realize that your aging parent is the same parent who lovingly swaddled you, held you, changed your diapers, taught you how to walk, eat, read and brought you through the many challenges of youth. Most people can thank their parents for helping them to become the fine adults they have turned out to be. Consider that one of the many blessings.

There are many more, which some families have trouble seeing when they are the ones who are silently suffering inside as a result of watching their beloved parents’ daily transgressions at the hands of this uncontrollable illness.

Here are 5 things you can do to make dealing with Alzheimer's a little better, and some may be simple, daily reminders:

  • Be thankful for every moment that you get to spend with your aging mom or dad, even if it pains you to watch the progression of Alzheimers.
  • Try not to get mad or frustrated when your parent does things you know are related to their disease; they cannot help it if they spill food on the floor or become forgetful. Don’t say things like, “I told you a hundred times!” or “Mom, you are wearing two different colored shoes,” or, “Dad, why did you put the milk in the pantry?” Remember this is a disease that affects their mind.
  • Think of your parent in a childlike stage and embrace the tender moments. If your Mom or Dad wants to reminisce about the same topic every day, over and over again, just go along with it as best you can.
  • Don’t be offended or take it personally if your relative with Alzheimer's calls you by the wrong name, or forgets your birthday and other special events. These are common symptoms, and your aging parent might call you by the name of their sibling or someone from their past, but that does not mean they do not love you any less.
  • There is no need to be ashamed or embarrassed of your loved one with Alzheimer's. Remember that your parent has probably been embarrassing you for most of your life, but you are lucky to enjoy every moment that they are still on this earth with you.

The reality is that Alzheimer's patients will regress into a childlike phase. Remembering that life really comes full circle and that your parent was – and is – here for a reason and a purpose can give you the strength to press on, even on the most challenging days.

Routines are very important, as well as surrounding yourself with a strong support network. Give thanks and gratitude for every moment you can spend with your loved one. Hire a caregiver, such as our talented CARE, Inc. staff members to further support your family. This can help you enjoy the journey with your aging parent more, as your family struggles in its battle with this terrible disease. You can’t do everything yourself, and it is very difficult to watch someone you love go through it, especially knowing how they were before as a smart, resilient and tenacious person. Count the blessings and the memories you shared, but don’t overlook the new memories you can create, despite the grim prognosis of Alzheimer's Disease.