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    randimm
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    Not sure where to turn. My husband, only age 66, has officially been diagnosed with early Alzheimers.  We’ve been seeing changes over the last 2 years with memory and speech.  But now it’s official.  We are both ‘so young’ and this is something that isn’t going to be better or go into remission.   I know it’s a long, hard road ahead but right now I’m just devastated, for us both.    Doctor recommends giving up driving and I’m still working full time.  He is going to feel so lost, independence going along with his mind.     I’m babbling.  Thanks for an ear…

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    randimm
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    Thank you. That was thoughtful and empathetic. I appreciate your acknowledgment for a need to grieve first.

    Alzheimer’s  is an awful disease and my heart aches for you. Your husband’s diagnosis has taken you into a a domain of life no one is ever prepared to enter. I hope I can offer you some things to think about and to hold on to as you face  this new reality.

    Get used to asking for help. This disease is not something you can manage on your own. Family, friends, and community resources are vital to your well-being as you look after your husband. You will need both emotional support and hands-on help from others.

    Caregivers are so focused on taking care of their spouse,  they often neglect themselves. Try to make sure that you keep some of the  routine parts of your life in place. Don’t forfeit these activities entirely. They might need to be reduced a bit, but do not give them up. You need to look after your emotional health.

    The benefits of joining  a support group for spouses of Alzheimer’s patients are immeasurable. No one but those who experience what you are  can ever understand the emotional and physical toll this disease will extract. Your challenges will change with each progressive stage of this illness and being in a room with others who share similar experiences  will give you a measure of relief. Being understood is crucial to your mental health.

    It’s okay to set limits on what you can do. Sometimes, you’ll have to put your own needs first. This might feel selfish, but it isn’t. Your husband depends on you, and if your own needs aren’t met, you wont be able to give him your best. Don’t minimize  your own needs.

    Anticipatory grief is part of Alzheimer’s. You will probably feel sadness, confusion, anger, loneliness, isolated, fear, guilt, worry, and more. These are all uncomfortable feelings but they are appropriate for this situation.  Don’t judge yourself harshly for having these feelings. Pay attention to your feelings. Tune into them because feelings often let us now what we need. If you’re feeling overwhelmed it might mean that you need the help. Don’t neglect to recognize your needs and then get your needs met.

    If it appeals to you,  try to keep a journal. It can be a cathartic way of releasing pent up feelings. Any type of exercise reduces stress and increases endorphins. A simple walk goes a long way to clearing your head, too.

    Spiritual practices provide comfort to many. Dig deep and draw upon your faith to help you cope.

    These suggestions are merely a start. There are many resources available to support you.  Use them when you’re ready.

    I’ve attached a link to an article I wrote about my father’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Coping with a husband’s Alzheimer’s is very different than coping with a father’s, but I hope you might find some solace or inspiration from reading it.

    Michelle

    What Alzheimer’s Taught Me About Love

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