November is National Azheimer’s Awareness Month and National Caregiver Month.
The photo at the left shows both an Alzheimer’s patient (my late husband Jack) and a caregiver (myself). Jack has been in Heaven for more than two years,but for several years before his death, I cared for him as his disease progressed.
If you search the word Alzheimer’s on this blog, you’ll find a number of posts about Alzheimer’s and about Jack. If you aren’t one of the millions of people with firsthand experience with Alzheimer’s and caregiving, I hope you will read some of the articles. If you haven’t been touched by Alzheimer’s yet, you probably will be. As the population ages, the incidence of the disease increases.
Just about everyone knows that Alzheimer’s affects the short-term memory. However, not everyone realizes the personality changes that accompany the disease. Imagine your spouse not only recognizing you, but even believing you are going to harm them. The shared memories that make up the fabric of relationships are no longer shared as the person with Alzheimer’s loses more and more memory. The individual has difficulty making decisions and even carrying on a normal conversation.
If you are faced with caregiving, I highly recommend Help! What Do I Do Now? Caring for Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s by Nancy Nicholson. Nancy is my sister, and she and I, along with other family members, were caregivers for my father. He was diagnosed in 1988, at a time when there was little awareness of the disease.
The caregiving experience impacted Nancy so much that she returned to college to earn a degree in social work. She is a social worker and certified dementia practitioner, and she has worked extensively with geriatric patients, especially those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
Her short little book is easy to read and makes a great quick reference for busy caregivers. It’s filled with examples and practical advice. She gets a lot of positive feedback from caregivers who read it.
Whether you read Nancy’s book, my blog posts, Alzheimer’s websites, or other sources, I hope you will learn more about Alzheimer’s. If you are a caregiver, I hope you will realize how important your care is to your loved one. If you know a caregiver, I hope you will thank them for what they do.