Alzheimer's blog

Family members share coping strategies, experiences

By Angela Lunde May 29, 2008

I have poured over each and every response to my last entry on dementia and family relationships. My heart goes out to each of you struggling right now.

Many of you wrote of the conflict, pain, sadness, and resentment occurring within your families. Thank you for your honesty and candor. I have to believe that many who read these words will find some comfort in knowing that they are not alone. I know you are doing the best you can with the situation you have been presented with.

Others of you wrote that you have come to a place of acceptance and peace on this journey and within your family relationships. Here are some of the ways a few of you have coped that I feel are worth repeating:

  • "... we do what we can to help our father and mother while not keeping tabs on who's doing what or who's not doing their share."
  • "I was finally able to get over my guilt of having to place him for his own safety and 24/7 care. I am now taking better care of myself."
  • "I have found that having a therapist has helped me deal with my sadness while I try to be the best caregiver I can be."
  • "You can't be bothered with what others will not do."
  • "For me, my mom was my best friend, and I gladly took care of her. I loved her, and miss her to this day. Her Alzheimer's was the best of times, the worst of times. The toughest thing I ever did, but the most satisfying. Miss you, mom."
  • "What about some respite help, some companion help? These are things, small things yes but would enable an outlet for a short time. And please joint a Support Group. Find someone to stay with your loved one so you can attend. You DO owe it to yourself."

On that note, I ran across a letter I received from a woman in my support group. She was a caregiver for her mother and experienced a strained family relationship. She wrote:

"Unless you have a loved one who suffers from some form of dementia, you will never know the suffering that transfers to the entire family and mostly to the caregivers. The suffering is life altering. However, the suffering is manageable when you find out you are not in this alone. Even though I could not keep my own family at peace, I became a part of another family — a wonderful, loving, compassionate, and supportive family. This family (my support group) gathers monthly to give each other the courage, strength and support to go on for another day. We learn how to break down difficult times to manageable moments. Right now, they are my closest family, we share an incredible bond."

May 29, 2008