An adult man with a beard and glasses sews a heart onto a brain

Living with Alzheimer's and its Impact on My Mental Health

You read a lot in the media these days about mental health. Athletes are taking time away from their game to focus on their mental health. Business people are taking days off to concentrate on their mental health. I think it is great that we are talking about it and people are realizing that it is ok to not feel ok.

Sometimes we have to take time for ourselves and regroup. Sometimes we need additional help - and more and more people are seeking that much-needed help.

What is mental health?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines mental health as our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.1

Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, poor mental health and mental illness are not the same. A person can experience poor mental health and not be diagnosed with a mental illness. Likewise, a person diagnosed with a mental illness can experience periods of physical, mental, and social well-being.1

Mental health vs. mental illness

We could all probably work on our mental health. Recently I was traveling and overheard a couple talking about mental health. Eventually, they started talking about mental illness.

They started discussing Alzheimer's as if it was a mental illness, not a brain disease. That is a big leap. It reinforced to me how much we still have to do to educate the public about Alzheimer's and related dementias.

The impact of Alzheimer's on my mental health

My mental health is not good because I have Alzheimer's. It affects my social well-being and how I interact with others. The worst part of my Alzheimer's - I have a hard time communicating to others that I am not doing well emotionally. I can't find the words to describe it.

My interactions with others fluctuate and it is hard for some to realize I am having a bad day or not able to communicate properly. They are at a loss for what to do to help me and I can't tell them.

As a result, I withdraw from social interactions more than I used to. I lose my patience very easily over silly things. I can no longer "roll with the punches."

Mental health through Alzheimer's

Mental health is something that I work on constantly. I have some physical challenges coming up that I know I have to deal with. I know how it will affect my mental health.

I am trying to think of ways through it so it won't be so depressing for me. Pity parties don't work for me. I know I just have to keep myself motivated to get through it all.

Although I have Alzheimer's disease and a few physical ailments to go along with it, I have many friends that are dealing with a lot more than I am. I don't know how they deal with it. They don't know how much their strength and courage motivate me.

I need to tell them and I will.

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