William Hammond, J.D.
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Being a caregiver is stressful and difficult. It involves contradictory feelings, thoughts and frustrations. When you have to care for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s, you have to be patient, talk with a calm voice and never “talk down” to your loved one.
Journaling your thoughts and feelings will definitely help you cope with the situation. Write in your journal all that comes through your mind and your heart; nobody but you will read it. It is between you and your journal. Let your pen guide you through the pages. You may want to do some extra research on Alzheimer’s disease to better understand the process and stages your loved one will pass through. If you are a little bit knowledgeable about the disease, the process of caring will be easier on both you and your loved one.
You can keep daily notes on your loved one, such as bathing or eating changes, whether she becomes agitated, and so on. It can also help you remember things to discuss with the doctor.
The good thing about a journal is that it is handy and you can write whenever you feel like it, day or night. It will never contradict you. On the contrary, it will aid you in dealing with your internal emotions; it will relieve your mind and your soul. If you are uncomfortable about writing, then it may be easier for you to express your feelings by recording them on a tape recorder. If you like, you can recall some family gathering you all had together, a camping trip or fishing trip where your loved one caught a BIGGGGG fish! You can read this part to him and it might trigger some memory in your loved one…a memory that was lost to Alzheimer’s.
Journaling will also help you release the burden of care giving you may have. Releasing the burden through the pen will definitely ease the pain. But journaling should not be the only way out for these strong feelings you have. You may want to enroll in a support group. You can check through the Alzheimer’s Association if there is such a group in you area. Speaking to other people will help in getting all these negative emotions out. And most of the participants are dealing with exactly the same emotions because they have to care for a loved one who has dementia. Sometimes, speaking out loud and getting out these feelings will do you a lot of good and you will feel much better after. You may even make friends through these groups, friends that will be able to support you as time goes on.
Remember, you are not alone. You have friends and family to talk to. Maybe you can ask a family member to help with your loved one. It will ease the burden and give you more time to yourself, to journal and to recharge your batteries.