Alzheimer's disease not only has a devastating impact on those living with the disease, it can have quite an overwhelming emotional effect on the victim's entire family. As a daughter, I always saw my parents as vital, intelligent and independent. Then, when all of a sudden, you notice that they can't seem to recall basic family facts or they hesitate when trying to communicate their thoughts to you, it causes you concern. You do quick internet searches, trying to find as much information as possible. Unfortunately it sinks in that there is no relief, because one thing about the disease, it always gets worse and in my family's case, like most families, it ended up with long term care in a nursing home.
My Mom was the first to exhibit signs of the disease. In the beginning, she would forget names and recent events and would ask us the same questions repeatedly. This behavior progressed into intense anxiety over the limitations she was experiencing. Most of her agitation was directed at those closest to her, my Dad, my sisters and I. In its more developed stages, Mom would require basic custodial care and need round the clock supervision so that she didn't try to walk out the nursing home.
My Dad's experience with the disease was more subtle and quicker paced. His immediate safety was at risk as he would mix up his medications and get marginally violent when trying to communicate with us. It is both heartbreaking and overwhelming to watch the physical and emotional decline of your parents. Even though their safety is at issue, you constantly question yourself if this is the right time for institutional care. When you see your Mom's face the first day in a nursing home, a part of you dies right there. The guilt is overwhelming, even though you know deep down it is the right choice for the care she needs.
My sisters and I experienced all the emotions associated with seeing your parents struggle with a life threatening disease. It is exhausting, riddled with anger and guilt. However, through it all, I feel it brought us closer together and helps us to focus on the importance of family and faith. We all know that family history is a factor in acquiring the disease, but through education and resources available, we have some hope in our and thousands of other's futures. Please consider donating to this most worthwhile cause. Thank you!
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