So why do we change in how we respond to them? Why can’t we accept that someone we love has a mental disease? Because we believe it reflects on us? As SRK says in Dear Zindagi, “We go to a doctor when we have a fever, so why do we struggle to come to terms with mental illness?”
Having dealt with Alzheimer's Disease at close quarters for a few years, I now understand a few things...
It is a disease and a one-way street. So don’t go chasing miracle cures (e.g. drink coconut oil) or conflicting medicine systems. Accept it. Go with the flow. Spend energy instead on being there for them & celebrating each day. There’ll be good days; enjoy them. There’ll be bad days; brace for them.
They’ve cared for us unconditionally. We now need to dig deep into our reservoirs of patience & cheer to do justice to their spirit. Small gestures can make them really happy, and making them feel needed is invaluable.
Keep them mentally alert & active. Not because it’ll slow the disease. But because it’ll make their last days interesting. And because it’ll tell them you care. There are so many products & ways that can help us do that today.
As time goes by, we’ll need to shift our focus from nurturing (emotional investment in their development) to care (competent, enabling support). Emotions keep you invested, but also drain you; so get help if you can afford it.
Yes, they are not kids, who need our nurturing embrace to grow & develop. But they are childlike in their helplessness and need us to provide protective care just as much.
By Prasad Narasimhan
Caregiver & Co-Founder of heyzindagi.in
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And then crept in dementia….
At first, we had no clue. Her naggings increased, she started forgetting things - even the crucial ones like going to the toilet. She accused us of not giving her breakfast having had it moments back. Then came a time when she was not able to recognize my wife and me. It was a difficult time for us as interaction with her became almost impossible.
Generally, we tend to pay more attention to the preparations leading up to the surgery but end up overlooking the need for planning for post-surgical recovery at home. If preparations are made in advance, Caregivers can avoid the challenges that crop up later.