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Friday, April 20, 2012

Caregiver Burnout Friday, April 20, 2012

It is so interesting that the media has picked up on this topic. While it is true, murder is sensational, it is so not the right way to support caregivers. As I wrote about a few weeks ago, when Mr. Snelling killed his Alzheimer diseased wife and then shot himself, I feel very badly for his family and others who resort to violence; they have the burden of both deaths.
As I describe in my book, Put That Knife Away- Alzheimer's, Marriage and My Transformation From Wife to Caregiver, there is a real change that takes place in the caregiver as the loved one changes due to the disease process of dementia.At first, there is a good feeling of being helpful to a beloved spouse. For a short while when the spouse has been very independent, a little bit of dependence also feels rewarding. We spent more time together.When other symptoms appeared, I denied any thought of dementia, trying supplements to aid in memory retention, hearing testing, sleep apnea testing, all to avoid the reality of a life-limiting illness that has no cure and is always fatal.
New medications each time improved life somewhat and my hopes for a slow peaceful decline from the disease were raised. But when "challenging behaviors" interfered with my husband's confidence in me as his caregiver, I became angry with this disease and I had to understand that I needed help. I could not do this alone. I could not keep my beloved spouse healthy or happy as his brain deteriorated--and he knew it. This is the time families and friends are so important, but it is also the time others pull away, as some of the person's behaviors become bizarre and sometimes socially inappropriate.
Even if the loved one is peaceful, often he/she forgets the relatives' names, but do not stop visiting or inviting them; the caregiver needs your support and your loved one does indeed know you at some level, even though he/she may not be able to express this understanding verbally.

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