“Dad visits Mom every day in the nursing home. He stays there for hours. I think he has to in order to survive. I’m convinced that even when she doesn’t recognize him, visiting her and doing things for her is the only thing that keeps him from dying of guilt or a broken heart or maybe both.”
“Mom lives with me, but she doesn’t always know me. Sometimes her behavior is so bizarre that I don’t know her either, and then I’m the caregiver for a total stranger. My sisters say she belongs in a nursing home. They’re right; she could live another ten years. I’ll die of exhaustion or a broken heart long before she does. But I still can’t put her there.”
Whether you’re actively involved in caring for your parent or just visit periodically, early detection of developing symptoms, followed by an accurate, definitive diagnosis and postdiagnosis planning, are key to successfully treating and coping with Alzheimer’s.
Unfortunately, both we and our parents usually become so frightened when we see signs of memory loss and confusion, we tend to deny that it exists.
When we deny symptoms and pretend everything is fine, we’re usually instinctively trying to protect ourselves from pain. Denial may feel safer and more comfortable, but denying Alzheimer’s can be self-defeating and dangerous.
Denial helps your parent remain at risk for additional illness and accidents, and may prevent treatment. This is a time for action. If you suspect your parent has Alzheimer’s disease, call your local Alzheimer’s organization, tell them your fears and ask for help.
Use the menu on the left to find out more about different aspects of coping with Alzheimer’s disease.