Most people don’t know a lot about dementia until they are affected by it. I learned more than I ever wanted to know at the age of 20 when my mom, Norma, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She was just 52.
Over the years, the disease progressed and we had to move her into a personal care home. We settled her in, placing pictures, blankets and other familiar items around her. It was a difficult move, and it was hard to trust people who weren’t family to care for her the same way we did.
Recently, our visits have changed. She’s very tired and her eyes are closed most of the time, but she will share a smile here and there and squeeze your hand or let out a little laugh. Sometimes, she’ll even reach out for a kiss.
I cherish every moment I have with my mom and wouldn’t miss our visits for anything. Going through this disease with her has taught me the importance of relationships, and I have learned how to be an advocate for people with dementia and their families.
HERE ARE MY TIPS TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND:
- Develop a support system that you can rely on. You will be able to share your feelings and count on others who can help you.
- Ask for information or a second opinion. It’s part of your job.
- Cherish every moment you share and every memory you have with your family members.
- Be patient and compassionate. Your family members need you to deal with the many changes brought about by the disease.
- Life can be crazy. Take your time and take care of yourself as you face your challenges.