Comparing Your Alzheimer's Journey to Someone Else's
When someone you love has Alzheimer's, it can be a very isolating and lonely journey. It is often helpful to connect with others who are going through their Alzheimer's journey.
It can help to have someone else who can relate to what you're going through and allow you to vent about your frustrations with the disease. Connecting with others in a similar situation can make you feel less alone.
As helpful as it can be to compare experiences in this way, it can also be harmful to compare your Alzheimer's journey with someone else's.
No 2 people with Alzheimer's are exactly alike, and therefore, no 2 journeys with Alzheimer's are exactly alike. You may meet other people who are caring for someone with the disease, but you may find that your stories are very different.
Why do people experience Alzheimer's differently?
As you may know, a person can live with Alzheimer's for many years, and there are various stages of the disease. Depending on how long the person has been diagnosed and what stage they are in, the symptoms they present can be very different.
Furthermore, time does not necessarily dictate the stage of the disease. For example, someone who has only been diagnosed for 2 years might have much more severe symptoms than someone who has been diagnosed for 8 years.
When it comes to Alzheimer's, there really is no typical progression of the disease, and it can be different for everyone. It may progress more quickly for some than others.
That's Alzheimer's for you
In addition, some cases of the disease are much more challenging or difficult than others. This can depend on lifestyle, additional health issues, resources, care options, and many other things.
It can also be simply because someone has a much more severe case of the disease for no particular reason. Some Alzheimer’s patients wander, while others do not. Some experience falls, while others never do. Some become violent and aggressive, while others seem to become calmer and happier than they ever were before.
It doesn't make any sense, but that's Alzheimer's for you.
More harm than good
In certain situations, it can do you more harm than good to compare your experience to someone else's. You may become bitter and resentful that others seem to have it easier than you. You may be jealous that their loved one still has abilities that your loved one lost long ago.
In contrast, you may actually feel guilty that you seem to have it easier than some others. You may feel bad for feeling sad, overwhelmed, or frustrated when someone else has it much worse than you do.
It's okay to compare your Alzheimer's journey to someone else's when you are doing so to gain and show support for others who are going through it. It can be very helpful to relate to others and make them feel less alone.
However, it can be very harmful if it becomes more of a competition than a comparison. If it makes you feel worse about your situation or guilty for your feelings, then it's probably not helpful. Alzheimer's caregiving is hard no matter what. It's not meant to be a competition.
Which, if any, of the following most often trigger agitation in your loved one living with Alzheimer's disease?