July 12, 2016
Alzheimer’s, Its Lonely in the Front Row
The term “living Alzheimer’s from the front row” describes caregivers and others that experience the full-effect of Alzheimer’s, 24/7.
After the disease strikes they get to witness the insanity of it all. It presents a two-fold dichotomy: you have the person suffering from Alzheimer’s; and you have the person responsible for caring for that person. It is near impossible to either understand or comprehend what it is like living in the front row, unless you are an Alzheimer’s caregiver.
Early on in the caring spectrum, caregivers deal with a disease that is not only impossible to understand; but also a disease that turns their world upside down.
Imagine if a person you knew for your entire life suddenly experiences behavioral changes for the worse. Now, a person you love, begins to act out previously unseen behaviors. You want to yell and scream at them but this will only make the situation worse.
There is no reasoning with a person suffering from Alzheimer’s. They believe what they say to be true and nothing can make a difference.
The range of emotions a caregiver might feel or experience on a day-to-day basis is immense. Imagine being happy and then sad, focused then frustrated, content then helpless — it presents an almost endless stream of feelings that conflict.
Caregivers experience tremendous anxiety and uncertainty. The Alzheimer’s caregiver must endure change on a daily basis, never quite knowing for certain what’s to come next.
Living with the knowledge that your loved one is going to forget the most basic means of survival: brushing their teeth, taking a shower, and even how to eat; is an exposure to helplessness that cannot be described.
(Related: Embracing the Caregiver Role)
It isn’t easy living in the front row, but somehow, they do it.
If you know a caregiver get involved. Listen first, let them vent. Then arrange for them to escape for even a brief period of time.
And last, hug a caregiver, it is an experience you won’t soon forget.