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WritingAfterDark

Blogs of Writer, Artist, Photographer, & Caregiver Joanne D. Kiggins

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Joanne has published more than 2,500 articles and was award recipient of the 1990 Woman of the Year for Beaver County, Pennsylvania, for her accomplishments and excellence in journalism and to the community. Her co-authored book, “Unforgettable Journey,” won fifth place in the Grand Beginnings romance contest. An excerpt from her WIP, “Unearthed,” placed her fifth in the Absolute Write Idol contest. Most recently, her essay, “Perseverance,” is published in the Stories of Strength anthology in which 100% of the profits are donated to disaster relief charities. Her most recent articles were published in ByLine Magazine, Writer's Digest, AbsoluteWrite.com, and Moondance.org. She has a monthly freelance writing column at Absolutewrite.com. Currently, she is the sole caregiver for her 85-year-old mother.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Forty Things An Alzheimer’s Caregiver Needs To Remember

All too often caregivers find themselves in situations where they constantly feel they need to explain what they are doing and why they are doing it. All too often they run into people, including family members, who just don’t understand Alzheimer’s Disease, and for the most part never will. All too often caregivers have more stress from these type situations than they do with the care giving itself.

These are just a few of many things caregivers need to remind themselves when taking on the responsibility of caring for a loved one. You are a caregiver for the purpose of providing security to your loved one and maintaining their health, welfare, safety, and dignity. Anything beyond that is not your responsibility.

Each Alzheimer’s patient is different from the next. No one person has the same reaction to a situation. Each situation is different--every moment. This list is to help all caregivers remember they are doing a good job in taking care of their loved ones, and to remind them not to be too hard on themselves.

1. I need to remember I am here to do a job and that job is to take care of my loved one.
2. I need to remember that I am doing the best thing I can possibly do for my loved one.
3. I need to remember my loved one comes first before all others.
4. I need to remember to keep my loved one safe.
5. I need to remember to keep my loved one fed.
6. I need to remember to keep my loved one warm.
7. I need to remember to keep my loved one clean.
8. I need to remember to keep my loved one healthy.
9. I need to remember to keep my loved one comfortable.
10. I need to remember to keep my loved one happy.
11. I need to remember to keep my loved one free of pain.
12. I need to remember to keep my loved one free of aggravation and aggression
13. I need to remember to keep my loved one free of anger and upsets
14. I need to remember to keep my loved one from being distracted.
15. I need to remember to keep my loved one in familiar surroundings.
16. I need to remember to keep my loved one stimulated.
17. I need to remember to keep my loved one from loud noises and busy environments.
18. I need to remember to keep my loved one feeling adequate and worthwhile.
19. I need to remember to keep my loved one remembering as long as possible.
20. I need to remember to find solutions before behavior problems appear.
21. I need to remember that I do not need to explain my decisions to those who don’t agree with my decision; the caregiver’s concerns/wishes should carry more weight.
22. I need to remember I do not need to explain why I have to keep my loved one on a schedule.
23. I need to remember I cannot make others accept what they do not want to accept.
24. I need to remember I do not need to be everyone's "excuse" for what they cannot do or do not understand.
25. I need to remember others are responsible for their own actions.
26. I need to remember I am only responsible for my own actions.
27. I need to remember I am only responsible for my loved one’s feelings and mine.
28. I need to remember I am not responsible for how often someone decides to visit.
29. I need to remember that not everyone is as flexible as I am.
30. I need to remember that not everyone is as patient as I am.
31. I need to remember that not everyone is as understanding as I am.
32. I need to remember that I shouldn’t withdraw from social activities.
33. I need to remember not to worry about tomorrow, but instead think about the moment.
34. I need to remember to quit worrying about what other’s think or say; I am the only one who knows what I’m capable of doing.
35. I need to remember not to be disappointed when I don’t receive help.
36. I need to remember to give myself permission to grieve the losses, but also focus on the good memories.
37. I need to remember my loved one feels my love and remind them they are loved and respected.
38. I need to remember to take care of myself.
39. I need to find time for myself.
40. I need to remember my spirit can’t be broken.

More often than not the responsibilities, problems, and feelings of a caregiver aren’t taken into consideration by those around them. If someone hasn’t told you you’re doing a good job in taking care of your loved one, read this list often to reassure yourself, and take this time to give yourself a pat on the back for doing the best job you can do.

There are times when you reach the point in your care giving where you need to learn to ignore problematic people and situations; continue to do what you’ve been doing for your loved one and make sure you take care of yourself as well. You cannot let people who don’t understand Alzheimer's Disease, and its many ups and downs, upset you and possibly endanger your health. If that happens, there would be no one to care for your loved one.

To all Alzheimer’s caregivers: Take a deep breath, read the 40 reminders often, and pat yourself on the back for sharing this disease of crossroads with your loved one until the road wanders no more.

Always remember: With Alzheimer’s Disease, the past is no longer, there is no future; there is only each moment. Cherish those moments, for they may be the last.

For more information about Alzheimer’s Disease visit the Alzheimer’s Association website.

Forty Things An Alzheimer’s Caregiver Needs To Remember has been published at Blogcritics.org in the Culture section.

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6 Comments:

Blogger nancy said...

what a wonderful post. i enjoyed your blog. thanks for sharing.

10/02/2007 7:57 AM  
Blogger ~Betsy said...

The irony of "remembering" 40 things when dealing with AD. :)

I hope you, Mom and Two Feather are having a good day and enjoying this lovely fall weather we have been treated to. The colors are just beginning...but then again, so is the fall clean-up.

Thanks for sharing.

10/02/2007 1:48 PM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Thank you, Nancy. So glad you came over to my blog. I'll be adding your blog link to my caregiver's list. Hope your day has been a good one.

10/02/2007 1:52 PM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

That is sort of ironic, isn't it, Betsy?! LOL Autumn in PA is beautiful. Once the leaves change, I'm sure you'll be seeing pictures here. I'm a nut when it comes to taking pictures.

We're all having a great day! Couldn't ask for better weather. ;)

10/02/2007 1:56 PM  
Blogger steflovesnonna said...

Caregiver and photographer huh... thats excited to me I love to met fellow photographers! I have seen you around the forum but I guess I did not connect that you were a photographer until I came to your blog. I will add your list to mine so I visit you more often! :)

10/02/2007 3:32 PM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Hi Steph! Good to see you here. I'm in the process of adding caregiver blog links to my blog. I'll look yours up and add it too. Thanks for reading. ((HUGS))

10/02/2007 3:49 PM