Alzheimer's and Dementa Caregiving, Dementia Caregiver Stories

Caregiver Health

Take your health seriously. It matters.

Things to know

Your Loved One's diagnosis is a a shadow diagnosis for you.

 

No doctor, supports, or medicine comes with your role as a caregiver, but you have a huge job, a lot of stress, and sometimes physical work. It can wear on you.

 

Your physical, mental, and emotional health matter.

ISSUE

Everyday. Your health matters everyday.

But some stretches of caregiving are harder than others, and extra attention to your health is particularly important then.

TIMING

  • Support: Make time for friends and therapy.

  • Socialization: Caregiving can be isolating. Find ways to stay connected.

  • Physical Health: Make time for exercise, sleep, and your medical appointments.

  • Joy: Do things you love, and try to pay attention to the fun in caregiving.

  • Safety: You should not fear for your safety. Tell a doctor immediately if you do.

A FEW TIPS

How they did it

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MIA

Age: Mid-20s

Loved One: Mom, Mid-60s

Diagnosis: Early Onset

Years Since Diagnosis: 13

I went to therapy against my will when I was 15. I was lashing out. I was very angry. It was a lifesaver. I went until college. I’m glad my dad forced me. 

 

My dad went to a support group. This was years ago. A few towns over. I was in high school. Not to be crass but these people were grieving their mom and they were in their 50s or 60s. It's not the same.  I met one one girl there. I still talk to her sometimes. She was a few years older than me. Her dad passed before. It was just her and her aunt.

 

It's a constant state of grief. It's hard for the brain to process. You can still see the person.  The brain is tricking you.

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SOPHIA

Age: Early 30s

Loved One: Dad, Mid-60s

Diagnosis: Early Onset

Years Since Diagnosis: 1

People express their sympathies. My least favorite one is “My grandmother had that also, sorry.” It's really sensitive. I'm sorry your grandmother had it. But you know, I yeah, I'm 32 and I shouldn't be living with my father and paying his bills and caring for him worrying about him. I should be enjoying my 30s, enjoying living with my partner for the first time. You didn't deal with that with your grandma. It's terrible to witness but it's very different when you're the one making the decisions.

I'm lucky. Right now, we're in a good swing. He's more or less good. He might not make sense all the time and requires my time --  like, you know, I call him my “dad son.” But we can still joke and talk and remember things. So people are supportive but we are in a good time. You go through these phases, when shit gets real when you need more support. If ebbs and flows.

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JENNIFER

Age: Early 60s

Loved One: Husband, Mid-60s

Diagnosis: Early Onset

Years Since Diagnosis: 1

As we waited to get diagnosed, I  was so scared. I couldn’t sleep. I took muscle relaxers because of the stress. I couldn’t focus at work. My jaw hurt.  Some days I wanted to run away.  I was lucky to have a few people – my siblings – that kept me above water.  I knew I needed a plan. I knew I could no longer leave him alone while I went to work. It is so extremely difficult to think for 2 people.  I didn’t  know how fast the disease would progress with him – he could stay where he was or it could accelerate. 

 

It's so lonely. I have no one to talk to.  I sit on the couch and I want to have a conversation, a real conversation.

How you can do it

Learn more about how other caregivers have taken care of their health while caring for their Loved Ones

MORE CAREGIVER HEALTH STORIES

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HEALTH GUIDE