As many of you know I spent many years in the pharmaceutical world. One of the disease states I spent a lot of my time in was Alzheimer’s disease. If you have ever had a family member who was afflicted with this disease you know how devastating it is to witness. Just as important but often overlooked is the effect that occurs to the forgotten patient: the caregiver. I call them the forgotten patient because so much attention is given to the patient with Alzheimers that the caregivers own path of suffering is often overlooked. This is no different than many other diseases and since November is the National Caregivers Awareness month this blog is dedicated to them.
As a representative I spent countless amounts of resources in educating the families of Alzheimers patients what to expect as the disease progressed. I heard from many caregivers how just an hour for themselves a day would mean the world to them. Think about that for a minute. Unfortunately that doesn’t happen for them enough.
The other situation that can occur is an outsider thinking they know what is best for the patient rather than the caregiver. Nobody has an idea of the day to day situations and stresses that occur between the patient and the caregiver. I come from a family of six kids and when my father was ill I think there were probably six opinions on what was best for my dad and my mom. They were all heartfelt and in the end, difficult decisions were made for both of them. My mom tried to be the caregiver but it ended up being too difficult. The natural love for a spouse is to take care of the other with no regard of how it may affect their own wellbeing.
While I am not requiring care these days my illness has changed the dynamics of our household. More and more responsibilities that I had done are falling on the shoulders of my wife. With that comes more and more stress and I wish she had an hour a day where she could just relax but running a household of six is a never ending process. She does a great job but she never stops and things will not get easier in the future. Hopefully we will find solutions down the road to ease the strain on her. My guess is that situations like this are happening all over the world. And I am sure others think of how they would do things differently or maybe better, but until you are in a situation you never know how you will react. What people can do is just be there to help.
If you know a caregiver out there don’t let them be the forgotten patient. Tell them you are available to help them in any way possible. It could be as simple as a meal or as simple as a free hour of time away from their loved one. Anything and everything helps, and thank you to all the caregivers out there for all you do.