As awareness of Alzheimer’s disease grows and more people are diagnosed early into the disease, we are seeing more families fighting back and living well with Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s a fight that requires a great amount of emotional strength from both the person with Alzheimer’s and their family caregivers.
They need us, as their family and friends, by their side supporting them. But often our ignorance of the disease scares us, causing us to take flight and avoid the situation. Ultimately we abandon them, leaving them feeling alone, confused, and too often, depressed.
Our fear pales in comparison to the emotional roller coaster that began for them when symptoms first appeared, sometimes years before diagnosis. A formal diagnosis puts a label on their struggle, and for some, may provide a sense of relief. It, however, also intensifies their emotional highs and lows.
Fear is often the initial, overwhelming emotion that cripples the family whose thoughts fill with negative outcomes. Sometimes it's fear of the unknown about what lies ahead. Other times, due to previous experience with the disease, its fear of the known.
Navigating a daily mix of emotions becomes the norm for the family diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another debilitating disease.
For the person with Alzheimer’s, having a terminal illness is a very disheartening situation. Their thoughts and emotions may include:
- Fear of what it will do to their family
- Embarrassment about what others may think
- Frustration over lost abilities and memories
- Anger about having a debilitating disease
As the disease progresses, the emotional ride for the person with Alzheimer’s slows, but the ride gains momentum for their caregiver who is committed to helping their loved one.