Alzheimer's blog

Caregivers, do what's best for you too

By Angela Lunde January 25, 2011

I've enjoyed reading your comments about the idea of giving chocolate to Alzheimer's patients. Of course, as many of you pointed out, chocolate is certainly not a magic pill.

One reader wrote, "What works for one person with AD may not work for another and what works one day may not work the next." How very true that is! Yet, all of you seemed to grasp the overall message that folks with dementia do better when they feel connected, loved, useful and safe — don't we all.

But there are times when even our best attempts to settle the agitation, irritability, paranoia, anxiety, or aggression of the person with dementia fall short. Medications, as a few of you described, can be helpful and are sometimes the right course of action. I applaud each of you who weigh the options available and make choices based on your situation. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong ... To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage."

Caregivers need to be supported in their decisions and do what is not only best for the person with the disease, but also what is best for them. Bob recently wrote in a blog posting that while the focus is often on the patient with the disease, caregivers too should do what makes them happy. Marty has certainly embraced this idea and I loved what she wrote last week so much that I want to share it with all you again.

"When my frustration level gets so high and I'm afraid I'll not be as caring as I should I excuse myself and retreat to the bathroom for a few minutes. After telling my sister about my coping skill she had a brilliant idea. She got me a box of chocolate covered taffy to hide in the bathroom. Now when I need a moment of sanity, instead of "hiding in the bathroom", I tell myself that I'm going for "a little chocolate break." I then can return to my husband in a very relaxed mood with a genuine smile on my face! Just knowing that I have a secret weapon to help arm me in our battle with Alzheimer's is a real pick me up."

Chocolate works for caregivers, too!

"Things turn out best for the people
who make the best of the way things turn out."

— Art Linkletter, radio/TV personality

Jan. 25, 2011