Grief and loss often accompany the journeys of caregivers, sometimes for years in the case of Alzheimer's or related dementia. Family caregivers experience losses not only of the person they love, but losses of their own familiar roles and dreams for the future.
I remember all too clearly that moment when I was searching through my mother's home, desperate to find her driver's license, her marriage certificate and other important documents that I needed in order to help her.
Although it was difficult for me to master the new approaches, when I finally did our relationship blossomed again and life with him was much more peaceful and emotionally rewarding.
Almost every week, or every month, we hear the latest news about possible breakthroughs created by pioneering medical research into the causes and possible treatments of Alzheimer's disease.
A simple fall can cause a serious hip fracture, broken bone or head injury, which can lead to hospital stays, disability, loss of independence and even death. But even falls without a major injury can cause seniors to become fearful or depressed, making it difficult for them to stay active.
When couples say their wedding vows, many of them promise to be faithful to each other through sickness and health. When Betty and Richey Coffey married in 1964 there was no way they could have foreseen the physical and emotional challenges they would endure for the next 50 years.
The looming Alzheimer's crisis is too big a challenge for government, the public or the private sector to handle alone. But we need someone to lead the charge.
People with Alzheimer's disease can become upset and agitated about things that happen to them. And when you, as the caregiver, witness your loved one's anguish, you may become distressed, too -- sometimes more so than your loved one.
Only when the vast majority of medical professionals choose to be forthright about the disclosure of Alzheimer's, will we all begin to see and understand the disease from the same point of view. As the stigma fades away, as it once did with cancer, we will step up our efforts to raise awareness, care for our loved ones and ultimately find a cure.
None of the men I know who 'do it all' are in this for the props. What would be nice once in awhile is for the public debate about caregiving to include males. The work men do raising children is every bit as demanding as when women do it.
Jenna Benn Shersher is an unstoppable force of nature. In 2010, she was just 29 when she was diagnosed with a rare cancer- grey zone lymphoma. During medical treatment, Benn Shersher was determined not to throw herself a pity party and instead threw herself a dance party of sorts.
I think Mom would be proud to realize we stuck together as a family despite the adversity. But maybe she wouldn't be that surprised after all, because that is her legacy to us -- strength and love. That is one of the many things she taught us so many years ago.
No one wants to place their loved one with Alzheimer's in a nursing facility. But sometimes, that's the best (or only) alternative, especially for those in the mid to late stages of the disease.
This month, we've got four powerful ways to help you strengthen your resilience ("Do this") and hold the line against stress ("Ditch that"). Consider them your non-negotiables -- the support you need to help you enjoy your days, grow through tough times, and do work that makes you proud.
By creating opportunities for the person with memory loss to be independent, you will be providing your loved one with the best possible dining experience -- something you can both be happy about. Bon Appétit!
It is not a job you can just quit when you feel like it. There will be many hard days. Days where you will cry and think of throwing in the towel, but you have taken on the job of caregiver. Your loved one depends on you and they need to be able to count on you.