Alzheimer's blog

Connecting with strangers helps calm caregivers

By Angela Lunde September 20, 2011

As I sit quietly today and read each of your posts over the past 2 weeks I, too, find myself with feelings of anger and sadness.

In a disease like Alzheimer's, there's no cure, the journey is unpredictable, and absolute solutions are non-existent. I feel sad that too often there isn't a fix for the challenges you're going through. And that so many of you must endure the physical exhaustion and emotional demands of caregiving, as well as the isolation it creates — even from your own family members. I'm angry that this disease is largely ignored by so many, including our own healthcare system.

For each of you, I wish to ease some pain. Often I can't. No one can. Humbly, what I can offer you caregivers is information and education to aid in understanding the disease. I can reinforce seeking support and respite services. I can discuss insights for managing behaviors and strategies for communication. I can provide a forum for each of you to know that you aren't alone and validate both your experiences and feelings. In some small way maybe I can offer thoughts about tapping into one's inner strength to accept and cope with this unchangeable situation.

But today I'm doing what I often ask of you. I'm going to simply be with my emotions — my anger, sadness and helplessness. Yet, for me, relief comes in knowing that all emotions are cyclic. In other words, none of us can have the experience of sadness without also having a relationship with happiness. Nor can we know what calmness is without having feelings of anger to compare it with. I have some comfort in knowing these emotions will pass.

Blog readers and writers, thank you again and again for sharing your emotions, your humanness, in all its vulnerability. Most importantly, thank you for being there for one another. When anger and sadness set in for you, believe above all else, it is our human connectedness that brings us back around to some sense of contentment or happiness.

"Look at all of us. We so desperately need someone to talk to we talk to strangers. And I, for one, am grateful for you all."

- Bonnie, blog comment on Sept. 11.

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Sep. 20, 2011