Monday, November 24, 2014

The Strain of Caregiving

I’ve been exhausted this month.  Not normal exhausted.  Not I’ve been writing every spare moment exhausted.  I’ve been feeling tension and stress more than I have in a long time.
At first I thought that maybe it was work.

Then, a few days ago, I realized what it was.  I was exhausted because of the novel I’m working on this month.  It’s about a family who’s dealing with a grandfather who has Alzheimer’s and hasn’t been diagnosed yet.  It’s exhausting to write: not just physically, but mentally and emotionally.

Working with Alzheimer’s is unpredictable, and when you don’t know what’s causing the strange outbursts of the odd behaviors, it can cause high family tension.  I’ve seen it more times than I can count.  I feel that in my time as a nurse with Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients, I’ve seen families fall into usually one of two categories.  Either they’re very involved, and constantly vising their family member, or they rarely visit and are difficult to get a hold of.

I honestly can’t imagine what it would be like to experience it firsthand.  I’ve seen it through the eyes of a caretaker, as a nurse.  I know that it’s painful and difficult for everyone, and they all respond to the disease differently.  For some, it’s showering their parents with attention, for others, the change is too painful, and they withdraw.

I’m only experiencing it secondhand from a fictional character, and I’m emotionally and mentally drained.  Trying to keep up, sort through the accusations, the anger, the behavior… it’s exhausting.

It’s amazing how much of an impact that Alzheimer’s plays in our lives.  Did you know that it’s one of the top ten diseases and it’s the only one without a cure?  Think about that.  That means hundreds of thousands of people deal with it every day without any hope of improving. 

If any of you are experiencing it right now, I hope you know how much I respect you for what you’re going through.  Please make sure that you have a good support system – one that can take care of you as you care for your loved one.

Provided by the Us Against Alzheimer's Foundation