Caring for a family member or friend with Alzheimer’s disease can be a challenge for everyone involved. But it’s important to understand that, as difficult as the situation is, neither those with Alzheimer’s disease nor their caregivers are alone.
Here at Post-it® Brand, we support Alzheimer’s caregivers through our partnership with the Alzheimer's Association Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter, and we wanted to find out more about what its members are experiencing. That’s why we spoke with caregivers and asked them to share the challenges and rewards of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. Their stories helped us understand that, while memories can fade, love never does.
One of the biggest challenges, the caregivers told us, is how stigmatized Alzheimer’s disease is. No one wants to talk about having the disease, and that makes it feel, sometimes, like those who have it, and those who care for them, are invisible. By talking openly about Alzheimer’s, and treating those who have it with the same respect and care we would anyone else, we can help erase that stigma.
On a more practical note, another challenge of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease is the struggle with time. It’s hard to find enough time to provide the attention and care someone with Alzheimer’s may need, but, in addition to that, it’s also hard not to feel like the time you have left to share with someone you love is slipping away. Struggling with that sense of loss, together with the pressure of keeping up with everything a caregiver has to do, is one of the biggest challenges of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. Looking for strategies to help with caregiving duties? We’ve got some suggestions.
But it’s not all about challenges. There are also some rewards. One caregiver told us that, while caring for her dad can be difficult and even frustrating sometimes, she’s incredibly thankful for the time they get to spend together. She feels that she’s closer to her dad now, and has gotten to know him better than she ever did before – she’s even discovered his dry and witty sense of humor, which, to her, is a whole new side of him. There may not be many silver linings to the disease, but spending time with those you’re caring for is one of them.
Of course, the disease also puts things into perspective. Though everyone in the situation wishes it were otherwise, Alzheimer’s does help those touched by it to value the time they have left – and to think carefully and plan ahead for their own futures.
Remember that the role of a caregiver can be a difficult one, but by understanding what others are going through, by talking about Alzheimer’s with compassion and respect, and by reaching out both to those with the disease and those who care for them, we can take a small step toward making their jobs just a little easier.