Q: I hate Alzheimer's disease, not only has it robbed me of my husband, but it has taken my life too! I feel like all of my friends have disappeared. I am lonely, and that makes me feel guilty. Help!
A: What you are describing is very typical for caregivers. No one seems to understand! Your world seems to get smaller and smaller as you care for your loved one.
In order for you to continue caring for your husband you need to get some rest and take care of yourself, and more importantly reach out to others. I know, I know easier said than done.
There are many options for you. The key is to pick something and do it.
Do something for yourself. It is very easy to give all of your attention to the person whom you are providing care for and neglect your needs.
1. Get a manicure
2. Go see a movie
3. Go for a walk alone
4. Try to take a nap, when your loved one is sleeping. Even though it takes up time you have to get other things done.
5. Buy yourself a magazine
6. Take a bubble bath
7. Go to a spa
If you are lonely you should avoid isolating yourself. Perhaps your friends have left because they didn't know what to do to help, simply because you didn't ask them. If you feel uncomfortable asking for support start with small things and work up to bigger ones.
1. Try inviting a friend to coffee or tea
2. Ask a friend to stay for an hour while you take a bath, read a magazine, or go for a walk alone.
3. Call a local senior daycare program and arrange for your loved one to go there once a week. There are programs available in almost every city.
4. Contact a local Alzheimer's support group in your area. These people do know what you are going through.
If you are truly burnt out and at the end of your rope, you should check into long term care for your husband. If you cannot continue to give him quality care, or if your health is deteriorating you may need to look at some alternatives.
Renee "Dutchy" Reeves is an Elder Care Consultant with over 10 years of working with the elderly and their families. Her online advice column, "Ask Dutchy" provides practical ideas and advice for assisting the elderly with Alzheimer's disease, Dementia, Parkinson's, disability, and those needing long term care.