Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Living Alzheimer's From the Front Row

Imagine a person you know all or most of your life and their behavior changes--suddenly--and for the worse.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Living Alzheimer's From the Front Row
I often use the term "living Alzheimer's from the front row".

This term describes caregivers and others that watch Alzheimer's develop 24/7.

Once the disease strikes they get to witness the craziness of it all. On one hand, you have the person suffering from Alzheimer's; on the other hand, you have the person responsible for caring for that person. Unless you are an Alzheimer's caregiver it is almost impossible to either understand or comprehend what it is like living in the front row.

Until you sit in the front row, you won't be able to comprehend what it is like living in the "front row" . In the early days of caring the caregiver deals with a disease that is not only impossible to understand; they live with a disease that turns their world upside down.

Imagine a person you know all or most of your life and their behavior changes--suddenly--and for the worse. This person, your loved one, begins to act out behaviors that you have never seen or experienced before. You want to scream at them at them, but you come to the realization that this only makes the situation worse . You cannot reason with a person suffering from Alzheimer's. They believe what they say to be true and nothing can change it.

It is difficult to describe the range of emotions a caregiver might feel or experience in a single day. Imagine being happy and then sad, caring then angry, focused then frustrated -- an almost endless stream of feelings and emotions that conflict. The caregiver lives an anxiety filled life day-after- day. The caregiver nevers knows when this craziness might come to an end. They do know this uncertain fate is heart wrenching.

Most people have difficulty dealing with change. The Alzheimer's caregiver deals with change on a daily basis. Never knowing for certain what is coming, but knowing fully it is coming.

Informed caregivers try to get ahead of the curve so they can get prepared for these harsh, sometimes hard to comprehend changes. Knowing that your loved one is going to forget simple things like how to brush their teeth, how to take a shower, and even how to eat is not a pleasant feeling. The experience and feeling of helplessness cannot be described.

Knowing that the day is coming when they --won't know you-- is the most horrific feeling of them all.
It isn't pleasant living in the front row. Yet, somehow we do it. Many of us for years. Trust me when I say this, if you are not living in the front row you could never imagine what it is like.

If you know a caregiver get involved. The first thing you can do is listen to them as they vent. The next thing you can do is arrange for them to get away from it all for a period of time. Hug a caregiver, I assure you it will be an experience you won't forget.

Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 3,810 articles with more than 306,500 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room

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