The Worst Day: The Realities of Alzheimer's Caregiving
It's the worst day. The day that they forgot how to do everything on their own. The day that they can't even feed themselves anymore. That's the worst day for me as a caregiver.
I'm not going to lie. It's really tough seeing my mom like this. She was always so independent and strong; it breaks my heart to see her struggling now. But I know this is just a part of the disease, and I try to take each day as it comes.
Some days are good, where she is relatively lucid, and she will smile and show some signs of recognition. Other days are bad, where she doesn't even know who I am. But no matter what, I'm there for her. I'm her caregiver, and I will be with her every step.
How I cope on the worst days
There are definitely days when I struggle to keep it together. When my mom is having a particularly challenging day, it can be hard to see her like that. I try to remember that this is just a part of the disease and look for gratitude through the worse days. During a session with my therapist, she helped me develop a list of things I can focus on when things are tough.
The mantras on my list
Whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed or down, I try to focus on one (or more) of these things. It helps me even on the worst days because there are still moments of joy. Maybe it's a smile from my mom or a moment of recognition. These little moments keep me going and remind me that there is still hope.
I am doing everything I can to keep her comfortable, and I know she appreciates it.
I am not alone in this journey, and I have a support system to help me through it.
Leaning in on my support
It is natural for me to want to take things on by myself, but I quickly burn out when I do and forget to take care of myself. When things are tough, I lean in on my support system. This includes my family, friends, therapist, and my fur babies.
My sister is my rock during this journey. She is always there for me, whether I need to talk or need a hug. She helps out around the house and takes care of my mom when I need a break. I am so grateful to have her by my side.
My friends have also supported me greatly. They check in on me regularly and are always there to lend an ear or offer help. I know I can always count on them, and it makes a difference.
I also see a therapist regularly, which has been incredibly helpful. Talking about what I'm going through with someone who understands has been beneficial. It's helped me to process my emotions and find healthy coping mechanisms.
Last but not least, my fur babies have been a huge source of comfort for me. They are always there to give me cuddles and kisses, and they never judge me. They help me relax and feel loved, and I am so grateful for that.
Being present and staying balanced
On the worst days, it's important to remember that I am not alone. I have a whole support system that loves and supports me, making all the difference.
If you're struggling to cope with a loved one's dementia, know that you're not alone. There are plenty of resources to help you and people who understand what you're going through. Lean on them for support, and take each day as it comes.
Bad days affect everyone. How do you cope with bad days as a dementia caregiver? Share your tips in the comments below, or start a forum!
Which, if any, of the following most often trigger agitation in your loved one living with Alzheimer's disease?