How Are You Doing?
This question is so different from "How are you?" When people come up to me and ask "How are you doing?" I think they really want to know versus when they come up to me and say "How are you?"
Being sick vs. looking sick
But, do they really want to know how I am doing because many times it comes with an added: "You look so good." People often equate being sick with looking sick. Those of us with Alzheimer's and other dementias know this all too well. We are constantly hearing "You look great, you must be fine."
They don't want to hear about it
They don't want to hear that when you were in the grocery store and couldn't find something that you regularly buy there, that you had a meltdown and left your grocery cart in the middle of the store to run out to a car that you couldn't remember where you parked.
They don't want to hear that you emailed the post office to stop your mail for three weeks while you were on vacation but in reality, we're only going to be gone for five days.
They don't want to hear how you were at a family gathering and couldn't remember anyone's name or how they were related to you.
They don't want to hear how confused and out of place you feel in large crowds.
They don't want to hear how lonely and sad you are.
Equating and comparing Alzheimer's symptoms
What they do want to hear is how you lost your keys so they can say "I do that all the time - don't worry about it." They also want you to know that "the older you get the more you forget." I know their intentions are good, but that is not what I want to hear.
When you have a physical ailment there are all kinds of different questions like, "How can I help?" or "Can I drive you to your doctor's appointment or physical therapy?"
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago there was an outpouring of support to my family. What I received was very humbling. I don't know that we could have gotten by without their support.
Somehow, it is easier to ask for help when it is a physical ailment perhaps because people know more about breast cancer than they do about Alzheimer's.
People don't know how to help those of us with dementia. Sometimes you just have to say, "Could you take me out for a ride?" Or, "Will you sit with me?" When we can't speak for ourselves our families need to ask for help. Assisting with some outside errands so they can concentrate on their loved ones.
People want to help people with Alzheimer's
Our community of friends and family that support me and my battle with Alzheimer's now know that I or someone will ask them for help and they will come running.
If you are reading this and you know someone with Alzheimer's think about being proactive and letting the family know that you are setting aside some time on a certain day just for them. That means the world to a family living and caring for someone with Alzheimer's.
Many people want to help - we just need to teach them how. Want to hear more about supporting people living with Alzheimer's from the community? Search our forums.
Does humor help you cope?