How Family and Caregivers Can Help Those Living With Alzheimer's

After my Alzheimer's diagnosis, I found it hard to ask for help. I never really had to ask for help before and I didn't want to admit my "failure" to do something. I was too proud to ask for help.

I was secretly hoping that my family and friends would sense that I needed help and just magically appear to assist me. It doesn't work that way – at least for me. Yes, after many years my husband can sometimes pick up on it, but not as easily as I would like.

I think the most frustrating part about asking for help is that when I really, really need someone's assistance it can sometimes be impossible to ask for it. By that I mean – I can't get the words out.

I am usually so frustrated by not being able to do a task that my mind is spinning already and the words just won't come out. They are there in my brain, but they can't get from my brain to my mouth. All the words have formed in a word cloud in my brain – but a storm starts brewing up there and chases that cloud away.

Dissecting my days

Before retiring because of my Alzheimer's, I worked in marketing and event planning. The majority of my time was spent trying to see the big picture of an event and playing devil's advocate as to what could go wrong.

You literally end up walking through an event over and over to not miss all the small details that can trip up an event. I find myself doing that in my life even more now.

Planning, plotting and dissecting my days has become routine for me and my family.

My days look different now

The holidays were a good example of this. My family wanted to do lots of things, but I knew I could only do so much and I didn't want to spoil everyone else's time.

So, each day we would have to decide how much I could do, how much I wanted to do, and what was realistic. With the added stress of the holidays my accomplishments each day fell very short of what I wanted to do. 

My family did sense my vulnerability and pared down many activities or gave me the opportunity to "opt-out" to a quiet space. It makes me sad that I can't participate like I want to, but I have had to come to that realization the hard way.

What do you wish your family understood about your Alzheimer's? Share here.

Helping a loved one who is managing Alzheimer's

If you are helping a loved one who is managing Alzheimer's, try to look at the big picture of the situation you are in. What is "normal" to you isn't "normal" to us. Look at it through our eyes – try to see what might make a bad adventure.

Ask yourself questions like:

We all want the best possible outcome without causing more stress in anyone’s life, so it is better to take some time to see what can be done ahead of time to maintain a satisfying experience for everyone.

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