I don’t have Alzheimer’s, and I’m not directly a caregiver for someone who does have it, however, Alzheimer's is something that runs in my family. In the 21 years of me being alive, I have seen this disease affect 6 of my family members. Three of the six have passed away, and the other three are in all different stages of this disease.
Being so young and seeing what this disease has done and what it is currently doing to my family isn't easy. There are days that I get so angry about what this disease has done to my loved ones that all I want to do is scream. There are days that I get so upset that all I want to do is cry. And There are days that I find myself asking "why does this have to happen to my family?" I know that I am not the only one who feels these emotions, I know that it is okay to have these feelings, but I also know that feeling this way all the time isn't healthy. Which is why when I catch myself having those thoughts and feelings, I take a deep breath and remember what my loved ones with Alzheimer's have taught me.
They have taught me:
- Feeling bad for people with Alzheimer's doesn't do anything for anyone. It doesn't make anyone happier, it doesn't help anyone remember any more than they already can, and it doesn't make the disease go away. These are all reasons why feeling bad for an individual with Alzheimer's isn't helpful, but let me tell you what is helpful: remembering that individuals with Alzheimer's still have feelings, thoughts, and personalities. Just because their memories are fading doesn't mean they are any less of a person.
- Not every day is going to be a good day. Meaning that there are going to be days where an individual with Alzheimer's may be more forgetful, cranky, or upset, but that can be said for anyone. We just have the ability to mask those emotions better since our brain isn't producing plaques and tangles. Try your best to remember that the next time you start feeling sad or angry when your loved one is having a rough day.
I hope that what this disease has taught me will be helpful to some of you who have the same feelings about this disease as I do.