The Emotional Rollercoaster of Caring for Someone with Alzheimer's
Last updated: February 2023
Have you ever tried to prepare yourself for what you thought was the inevitable next big decline for your loved one only for it to not happen?
Have you ever thought your loved one's passing was so imminent that you actually began to say your goodbyes only for your loved one to improve ever so slightly?
There were many times during my mom's ten-year battle with Alzheimer's that this happened to me.
Another steep decline?
There were so many times I thought my mom was facing another steep decline only for her to improve within a few days. There were so many times I prepared myself for her last birthday, last Thanksgiving, or last Christmas only for her to hang on and eventually improve enough that I knew it wasn't the end.
I specifically remember one year when my mom seemed to have declined drastically overnight. It was just a few days before Christmas and I immediately began telling myself that it would probably be her last Christmas.
She had a cold and it was taking its toll on her. But after a few days, her cold started to get better and she improved significantly. She lived for over two years after that.
Preparing for the worse, hoping for the best
Another time my mom had developed a bedsore that became infected and it caused another significant decline seemingly overnight. Again, I prepared myself for my mom's death only for her to improve once the infection started to clear up.
Although it was clear that my mom was still transitioning to the end of her life, she lived for almost another three months after the infection went away.
Battling the conflicting emotions
On both occasions, I felt the same — both relieved and confused. I was grateful that my mom improved and that I would get to have more time with her, but I was also confused about the timeline of the disease.
I would often wonder how much longer she could go on living that way. I also questioned how much longer my family and I could handle the constant yo-yo-ing of emotions. It was difficult, to say the least.
The emotional rollercoaster of caring for someone with Alzheimer's
We often refer to things as an emotional rollercoaster and nothing is truer of that than Alzheimer's.
Most people live with the disease for years, facing many ups and downs along the journey. Whenever our loved ones experience another loss or decline, we feel like we are scrambling to figure out what to do next.
What does this new normal look like? How will we handle it? What's the plan? Eventually, things stabilize and we feel like we have reached a plateau once again.
Constant ups and downs with Alzheimer's
These plateaus can last for months or even years before there is another big loss or decline. Just as we feel like we finally have a chance to breathe, things change again and we begin scrambling yet again to figure things out. This pattern repeats itself constantly over the years and the emotions are always the same.
Panic. Stress. Grief. Sadness. Relief. Confusion. Acceptance of the new normal.
No wonder we are exhausted and emotionally overwhelmed all the time.
A ride no one wanted to get on
The constant ups and downs of a ride no one wanted to get on in the first place, but at the same time, we would never willingly get off because we love our loved ones so much.
And that in a nutshell is the emotional rollercoaster of caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease.
Does Lauren's story of enduring the emotional rollercoaster from Alzheimer's right true for you? Tell us about your experience in the comments below, or share your story with the community.
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