Lisa S. - Alzheimer's, My Parents, and Me
Thirteen years ago, my experience with Alzheimer's disease began. My mother was "diagnosed" first. When A.D. began to rear it's ugly head, my mom had recently been diagnosed with macular degeneration. We saw every opthamologist and retinologist in the area. All of the doctors agreed that she was losing her vision which was causing the confusion. We had someone from the Society for the Blind to visit my mom at home. The lady that made the visit felt like there was "something else going on" because Mom was having so much difficulty following oral instructions. To make a long story very short, confusion increased quickly.
At the same time that Mom was having difficulty, my father had to have open heart surgery. After the surgery the cardiologist told me that confusion was common for a few days. Dad's confusion never got better. On a return visit to the cardiologist, he stated the possibly we were dealing with something else. Again confusion increased quickly.
For thirteen years, I was the primary caregiver for both of my parents. I hired two ladies to tend to my parents' daily needs so that I could continue to work. My husband and I took care of my parents on the weekends. The disease slowly progressed with both parents. Mom died at home in May of 2011. Dad died in a hospice setting in 2012. Alzheimer's left a permanent mark on me. In the midst taking care of my parents I developed a seizure disorder, which my neurologist was stress related. I take medications and the disorder is mostly under control.
As a caregiver, I now know how important it is to take care of yourself. I also understand the fear of "will it happen to me." If you are taking care of someone with A.D., please take some time each day for yourself - read, listen to music, go for a walk....We can't take care of those we love, if we don't take care of ourselves.