November is National Family Caregivers Month and National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month
During my two decades of caring for seven elders, family caregiving was considered just what you do, if you are a good person, and you shouldn’t complain or even mention the fact that you are depressed, exhausted, frustrated and that all of this is made worse because no one understands.
There was no network. There were no support groups. If there was any of this, I wasn’t aware of it – perhaps I was just too busy, tired – well you know the drill.
Also, at the time, Alzheimer’s was just being identified. It was said you couldn’t really be sure if a person had Alzheimer’s disease until an autopsy was done. And they couldn’t do anything to help you or your loved one, so there wasn’t much point of having a diagnosis. It all seemed pretty hopeless.
Research has changed all of that. Early diagnosis is important. No, there is no cure. Yes, you will often feel it is hopeless. But some prescription drugs can slow the mental decline. Others can manage symptoms. Both of these strategies can make the Alzheimer’s patient more comfortable and the caregiver’s life easier. And awareness and support can make everyone’s life easier.
When you don’t feel you are the only one suffering in this way; when you can share the burden physically and emotionally; when you know there is an army of fellows worldwide to help you and your loved one through this – it can make a world of difference.
So we do have a lot to celebrate. Awareness and research and support – all necessary ingredients to a better future.
Published On: November 13, 2006