Shared by Howard Schnitzer:
Being a caregiver for my wife Chris in the face of Alzheimer’s has been an arduous journey, both emotionally and physically. Alzheimer’s is a relentless disease that tests the limits of one’s strength and resilience, but it’s the emotional toll that often feels the heaviest.
One of the most emotionally challenging aspects of this journey has been witnessing Chris’s expressions of longing for heaven. It’s heart-wrenching to hear her yearn for an escape from the torment of Alzheimer’s. The disease has transformed her from a top executive assistant, a woman of remarkable capabilities, into someone who struggles with basic functions. The transition has not only been difficult for Chris but for me as well.
In the midst of these heart-wrenching moments, I’ve made a commitment to make Chris’s good days the best they can be. I’ve had to learn to be more patient and understanding, as this disease has stripped away her abilities and left her vulnerable. It’s not easy, but it’s a testament to the strength and resilience that caregivers need to muster every day.
Through my experiences, I’ve learned valuable lessons that I hope can inspire and guide others in similar situations. The importance of seeking help and support cannot be emphasized enough. Caregivers should not bear this burden alone. Friends and community resources can provide the emotional strength needed to care for a loved one and lighten the load.
Self-care is another crucial aspect that should not be overlooked. It may seem challenging when your focus is primarily on your loved one, but taking care of yourself is essential to being a better caregiver and maintaining your own well-being.
Preparing legal and practical matters in advance has also been invaluable. Legal documents and frameworks ensure that Chris’s wishes are honored, and they help navigate the complexities that can arise in Alzheimer’s caregiving.
Learning to ask for help and being part of a supportive community of friends has been vital to my journey. Leaning on your support network during difficult times is essential. My involvement in a men’s support group for over twenty-five years exemplifies how communities can provide crucial support during trying times.
Through this journey, I’ve experienced significant personal growth and adaptation. My love and dedication to Chris have grown, and I’ve become more loving and supportive. We hold hands, express our love every day, and her care is my top priority. Caregiving is an immensely challenging and selfless role, but the bond it creates can be incredibly heartwarming.
It’s essential to remember that the Alzheimer’s journey is unique for each person, and while the challenges are significant, there can still be moments of connection and love. My dedication and love for Chris are a testament to the commitment caregivers make to provide the best possible care and support during these difficult times.
In the end, I find it most important to live by the caregiver’s “10 Commandments”
- Never ARGUE, Instead AGREE.
- Never REASON, Instead DIVERT.
- Never SHAME, Instead DISTRACT.
- Never LECTURE, Instead REASSURE.
- Never Say REMEMBER, Instead Say REMINISCE.
- Never Say I TOLD YOU, Instead REPEAT.
- Never Say YOU CAN’T, Instead Say DO WHAT YOU CAN.
- Never COMMAND Or DEMAND, Instead ASK Or MODEL.
- Never CONDESCEND, Instead ENCOURAGE And PRAISE.
- Never FORCE, Instead REINFORCE.
In conclusion, being a caregiver to a loved one with Alzheimer’s is a journey filled with emotional and physical challenges. It’s a path that requires strength, resilience, and unwavering love. Seeking help and support, taking care of yourself, and preparing for legal and practical matters are all essential aspects of this journey. Through personal growth and adaptation, caregivers can find moments of connection and love even in the face of this devastating disease.