I have been reading the blogs of some dementia caregivers that are so stressed and at the end of their rope. Well, I have been there, and I have done that, and I know just how hard life becomes when you are a caregiver. You have to laugh at a lot of the things your loved one with dementia does, or you will cry.
My brother with dementia, whom I cared for, was a hyper person which compounded dealing with him. He got angry, he disliked me, he thought everyone else had a problem except him.
My brother came to me to talk to me one day and he told me, “They stole everything I have, they stole my hair, they stole my parts, they took it all.” In my mind I began to think that was so funny, but I did not laugh out loud With a straight, serious face I told my brother, “Well, I see your hair on top of your head, and I see a head and 2 arms and 2 legs, so I think you still have all of your parts.” That statement seemed to satisfy him and he walked away. I told this story to friends who laughed and said how sad.
My brother ran or wandered away a lot – 27 times in 10 months. He could be out of your sight for 2 minutes and then be gone. We drove roads, we walked areas of the woods, we called 911, police searched by car, on foot and with K9 dogs. Somehow we always found him. His invisible friends would tell him he had to go here or there and he would just walk away. Physically my brother was very strong and he could walk 7 or 8 miles without it bothering him. Stress, oh yes, that is stress when you fear for your loved one’s life and you worry that they will cause an accident by wandering on the highways.
As a caregiver I did not need to go on a diet, I could eat all I wanted of any type food, and the pounds just disappeared like magic. Stress causes all kinds of reactions in your body, stress can make you ill, and stress can kill you. When everything overwhelmed me, my spouse would give me a day to run away with friends and family to enjoy the real world. A day away from being a caregiver is wonderful, but you know you have to come back home and pick up where you left off. Depression is a part of being a caregiver, but I refused to use drugs to help me cope. My heart goes out to caregivers everywhere, but someday God will bless you for your sacrifice.