A is for Anxiety.
If we are being real here (and we are) there is a lot of anxiety involved in having someone in your family with dementia.
Anxiety about the future, long term and immediate. Am I handling this right? Will I make the right decision at the right time? There are certain decisions regarding care where timing is everything and it's so tempting to put them off, rather than decide too early. What will be then end of this? Will I be able to be the person they need throughout the journey?
Anxiety about treatment. My doctor said this, but I read the opposite. Who is right?
Anxiety about today. It's only 10:00 a.m. and my patience is slipping. How can I get through the rest of the day? I'm so weary...
Anxiety about yesterday. I feel so guilty about how I handled that situation yesterday. I know they don't remember, but I do, and the guilt is eating away at me.
Anxiety is a reality, and it doesn't help to say "Don't worry." Right.
Here are some things that might help.
Read. You need to be informed. Learn what form of dementia the person you love has. What are the characteristics? What is happening in their brains and their bodies (as much as is known)? Of course, not all sources are reliable, but anything from the Alzheimer Society, Dr. Allen Power and Dr. Richard Thomas is a good start.
Listen to those who are also carepartners. It's often the case that none of your peers or friends are going through this, and it helps to have someone to talk with who is experiencing similar situations.
Remember: "If you've met one person with dementia, you've met one person with dementia." Tom Kitwood. Everything you read and hear is not about the person you love. They have their own personality, and that doesn't go away with dementia. It may alter in some ways, and you may need to get to know them differently, but they are still the same person. They are still a person. Not a problem, not a disease but a person.
Get help. Find a support group, or talk to someone you trust--a minister, a priest, a friend, a counsellor. They may not have specific experience with dementia, but they can probably help you.
Look after you. I know, I harp about this all the time, but you're no good to the other person if you get sick or burn out.
A is also for:
and...Apple pie enjoyed warm with ice cream. Together.