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Looking back, it’s almost as if one day I was happy and living the life I’d chosen and the next My brother and I were my mother’s permanent caregiver. Of course, there was more to it than that, it started off with, of course checking on her & my aunt daily by calls and visits. Surprising them with dinner, a few times a week, then progressed to being a nightmare after I realized what was really happening. YES, I WAS IN DENIAL!! Over time, I had gone from just being that pesty son that Loved his mother & aunt to becoming a full-time caregiver, trying to protect his mother from hurting herself or anyone else. My whole world was in a whirlwind, My Aunt died and I found her body at her home on the floor, my mom was now in a memory care facility and I couldn’t tell her that her sister had died. I was dealing with great emotions and crucial decisions. Most days, I could hardly remember what day it was, it was so much going on. Much of the time, for those who become caregivers to a loved one with a disease such as Alzheimer’s/Dementia, it isn’t something planned out or prepared for. Each moment is eventful and changes by the moment.

It all happened so quickly that I never stopped to think about my own wellbeing or the feelings of sadness, even anger I was experiencing from losing Momma & my aunt all at the same time. Natural causes took my aunt and Alzheimer’s/Dementia was taking my mother, slowly right before my eyes. Some days I felt very confused but continued to run into the fire and never stopped. My family has always been very close, I was always close to my parents, grandparents, aunt, & brother. Being the oldest and working very closely with my brother, I was the point person to watch over the family. But it never crossed my mind that Momma would begin showing early stages of dementia in her 70’s and become totally incapacitated by her mid 70’s. Fortunately, being self employed, has provided me the opportunity to give even more focus and attention to her needs. Of course, we are never ready for all of this financially and especially mentally, but with good planning, It definitely has taken the edge off.

There were times, I neglected my mental health, my golf game went out the window, No fish in the freezer from my fishing trips, My frequent flyer miles were expiring. I realized I was neglecting myself and was dealing with the enormous amounts of stress in unhealthy ways, such as staying up late, cooking & eating more at night, less sleep, in addition to all that running around to my mother’s doctor’s appointments, I missed a few of my own. By the time, I made it to my doctor, I had gained additional pounds that affected my BOYISH FIGURE and my blood pressure was much higher than normal.

Some Statistics for you

According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare, 23% of family caregivers caring for loved ones for 5 or more years report their health is in fair or poor condition. 47% of working caregivers indicate an increase in caregiving expenses has caused them to use up all or most of their savings which in turn leads to additional stress and possible health issues. Further, stress induced anxiety and/or depression disorders are among the most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses found in those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • Keep it positive, positive thought is the best weapon for a calm mind
  • Take a break and make time off for yourself to exercise or read a book, play golf, fish, ride your bike, go hike. Have more sex!
  • Communicate with family and friends, or if that’s not enough, try joining caregiver support groups
  •  Take care of your own physical health as well and schedule regular medical check-ups
  •  Ask for help, you can’t do everything by yourself
  •  Remember to laugh, there is no medicine that could be prescribed that’s better for a healthy mental wellbeing

There’s a good reason caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s/Dementia have often been referred to as the second patient and if we don’t look after ourselves then who will? Every day, I kept asking myself, WHOSGONNATAKECAREOFME. My doctor appointments were a huge eye opener and turning point for me. From that moment forward, I started taking breaks, making it to the golf driving range, running, and then started spending more time with my close friends talking and sorting through all the emotional baggage and crap that I’d stuffed away for the last few months. It wasn’t a quick process but slowly things started to turn around and as I started to feel more balanced. I began to feel as though I had more control over my life, which eventually led to feeling like ME again. Hence, creating & advocating daily in my new Video studio for Alzheimer’s/Dementia with the goal to help others deal with this dreadful disease.

Take time for yourself, you are no good to anyone if you are down and out!
Don’t Forget, Alzheimer’s can surprise you!

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