The holiday season has begun. I hope that your holidays will be bright and happy. If you have a loved one you are caring for with Alzheimer’s disease I wish you a new found hope of care and compassion after reading this article and watching the videos, I believe it could be life changing and at the least very eye-opening.
I have a suggestion for you, as a caregiver, to take a few moments and watch an amazing concept that can be adopted for home therapy for an aging loved one. The video is titled “ Shifting the Perception of Alzheimer's Disease and Creating Positive Outcomes (Kim Warchol) Part 1 and Part 2.
Even though this video is about the character of the caregiving facility, try to take what she has to telling you and use the comments to help you shift your perception of the mental anguish of the loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. Kim Warchol, who I believe is very sincere professional, used an important word when she is offering her thoughts and beliefs, "Mission".
On A Mission
She says “it is my mission to find a way to help a patient with this very horrible disease". If you are the caregiver to your loved one shouldn’t this be you mission? I admit, having gone through this unstoppable disease that it would have helped me if I would have shifted my perspective. My wife agreed with the advice, as she was sobbing, said that I see that I wanted my best friend back and felt completely helpless.
Progression of a Horrible Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a horribly deteriorating disease. It does not stop in progression from stage 1 through stage 7. It can span more than ten years. As a caregiver, you must educate what you are dealing with, or you will get caught up in the sheer helplessness of trying to find a way to make sense of it all. It does not make sense. It begins with forgetfulness and ends up unable to swallow.
The Beginning of An Emotional Roller Coaster
My wife and I started this blog February of 2009. We had gone through an emotional roller coaster. We created an In-law suite in our home and thought that was all that was needed. Bringing our mother into our home, and our lives 24/7. We had already spent three years of endless trips to my wife’s mom’s house to find her just as irritable as we were. When she did not answer a telephone, it got unsafe for her to be alone any longer.
As a family, we had no idea what we were in for. We had very few resource to help as a home caregiver. My wife and I suspected her mother had Alzheimer’s disease. My wife was in denial and found the neurologist was complacent to misdiagnose her mother. Her mother and best friend was very ill. If we knew then what we know now, we would have done so many things differently. Little did we know how much torture with night terrors, confusion and panic her mom was in.
I Wish I Knew This Before
I saw a news report where a son was trying to deal with his mother’s mood swings, combativeness, and confusion. He took a challenge with a female reporter from the hometown TV station to dwell in a world mimicking his mother’s life.
It was a controlled atmosphere with the conditions of sound, sight, and feeling for only 12 minutes. The son and reporter put on goggles that were distorted to give the effect of cataracts and failing eyesight. Next they donned latex gloves with some of the fingers taped together to give the sensation of numbness and arthritis. Last they had to wear headphones with a dull voice that never stopped over constant distorted noises.
Ready to start with the preconceived handicap they were given 5 activities:
- finding a white sweater
- pairing socks
- setting the kitchen table for dinner
- pouring water into glasses
- tying shoes and/or tying a tie.
I could not believe what happened. They were confused, dizzy, yelling, angry disoriented, and failed miserably. It was only 12 minutes, and they both had given up. The son could now imagine what a glimpse of his mother’s life felt like to her not just himself.
What a Bombshell
His perspective was changed by the experiment. The son broke down in tears because he has been so frustrated and unable to assist his mother that he only thought of how she was impacting his life, not her life. It was unbelievable what his mother must of been going through.
Shifting to A Positive Perspective
Seeing all that, I felt guilty about the way I responded to my wife’s mother. Instead of perceiving someone crazy and angry that wouldn't change. I should have forgotten about rationally sound thinking. I could have changed my perception from what I was going through to what she, completely helpless, was trying to deal with; confused and in mental as well as physical pain. I couldn't imagine the panic my mother in law felt if she tried to stop from sliding down a long, long slippery slope. It makes perfect sense to me now. The loved one, tragically, is unable to change.
Educate Yourself Early
No one with Alzheimer’s disease wants to lose hold of the rational world. It is a nasty, demoralizing, and progressive disease. Early prevention is key to slowing the disease. Although the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease can be up to ten years before of any visible signs. Early detection is paramount. We need to immerse ourselves as caregivers, or as aging adults ourselves, in knowledge of prevention as well as detection. Some cases of Alzheimer’s disease have been diagnosed in people in their thirties and forties.
Cure Soon Please
It is just a matter of time for research to catch up with a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. As an aging adult and for our loved ones, I hope it is soon.