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Loving Someone with Alzheimer’s

I love someone with Alzheimer’s. For anyone who has ever had a loved one suffer from Alzheimer’s, you understand that it can sometimes be challenging to say those words.

I remember when I met my mother-in-law for the first time. She hugged me and I will never forget that hug. She knew I was already a mother, so we sat at a table and she asked me a million questions about my child. We were at a family function and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her playing the crowd. At that time, she had no grandchildren but still showed up with a bag full of goodies for all of the kids at the barbecue. She was destined to be a grandma.

It was two years later while we were preparing for our wedding that we first started to notice some memory loss. I think we excused it and blamed it on her being a little overwhelmed–her only son was getting married, after all.

Much to everyone’s excitement, two months after our wedding we found out I was expecting her first grandchild. She was over the moon. However, eight short months after I gave birth she was diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

I had the same thoughts that most everyone has when someone you know is diagnosed with this kind of disease. I wondered, “When will she forget my name?” At that time, little did I know that was the least of the worries for our family.  

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, there are a few things you need to handle (once the shock wears off). Here are my recommendations from what we’ve learned on this journey:

1. Arrange a meeting with an Alzheimer’s Association representative in your area and have a mini counseling session with the whole family. The Alzheimer’s Association can help you handle the news, let the family know what to expect, and also suggest ideas for upcoming care.

2. Meet with an attorney that is experienced specifically in helping families of Alzheimer’s patients. These attorneys can give you advice on how to handle the patient’s money–or your money–legally. You will need future care and your financial situation can greatly affect the quality of care.

3. While he or she is lucid, allow your loved one to make wishes for the future. Have serious discussions about how they want their future handled. We didn’t get 100-percent of that information and now we are doing what we “think” she would have wanted. Better to ask and honor those wishes then play the guessing game.

4. Think and discuss long-term care. Meet with immediate family and come up with a long-term plan. Alzheimer’s is a progressive illness and things slip a little at a time. Because there are different stages, there are different needs. Discuss each stage and the needs to be met with the people who will be involved.

5. Most importantly, find a support group in your area. This is a helpful way to get advice from those already experienced with loved ones who suffer from the same thing.

It’s now been almost four years since my mother-in-law’s diagnosis and we are to the point that we are losing her fast. My father-in-law has mentally lost his wife, and my sister-in-law and husband have lost their mother. However, the saddest part is that my children have lost their grandmother–that role she was born to play. 

She has forgotten how to do things on her own such as walk, have a conversation, shower, and so many other things that I will spare you the details. She needs 24-hour care and has entered that angry emotional stage that we have heard so much about. We have to remind ourselves everyday that she’s not herself anymore and that she has Alzheimer’s. This just isn’t her.

We are being forced to make decisions we never wanted to make for her best interest. But as of now, she still remembers the ones close to her. That, to us, is what we have to hang onto.

I will always love my mother-in-law. I was honored to have met the “real” her. I miss her everyday and at times I just want to shake the body that’s still left and scream, “Give her back!” However, that’s what Alzheimer’s does…it breaks you.

I hope anyone reading this can take the above suggestions and understand how to help the family if they have a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. But remember, those with Alzheimer’s still need love…and sometimes that’s the best medicine.

“God just cleared a lot of things out of {my brain} it was crowded up there.”- Glen Campbell on speaking of his Alzheimer’s diagnosis.


[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://primeparentsclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/TinaHaddad.jpg

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[author_info]About the Author

TV Talk Tina, real name Tina Haddad, is a wife, mother and self-professed “reality TV junkie” who loves all things entertainment. See more of her vlogs, and a mix of lifestyle posts, here on Prime Parents’ Club. [/author_info][/author]

2 Comments

  1. Beth

    July 19, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    That was amazing… My heart goes out to your whole family! xoxo

  2. Laura

    July 11, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Tina, you have nailed it right on the head. All of these tips you have lived through, and experienced. Thank you for your thoughtful insight!