The article tells the story of Peter Nicholson. Peter is a single male caregiver (like me). He is living Alzheimer's from the Front Row. He is experiencing the most horrible moment of them all--when they no longer know you.
The single toughest moment was when she said to me, ‘And now who are you?’ he said. My whole world just dropped. That was the pinnacle of despair.
Since becoming a caregiver Peter has lost 45 pounds, suffers from anemia, and is living the enevitable financial stress that comes with this non-paying job. Peter is not unique, 60 percent of Alzheimer's caregivers suffer from illness or depression. The body and mind can only take so much and then it starts to break down. Unless you live Alzheimer's from the front row you cannot imagine this life and the stress it brings with it.
Being an Alzheimer's caregiver forced me to learn how to live life a minute at a time. In the Alzheimer's environment you never know what is going to happen next. You can be happy and then suddenly sad. You can be caring then angry, focused then frustrated. The emotions come in waves and often they conflict. It is these conflicting emotions that lead to the sadness, confusion, and the frustration that becomes depression. You have to work very hard and take very good care of yourself to insure you won't become physically or mentally sick. Managing caregiver stress is not an easy thing to do.
When I finished the article I did feel some positive emotions. I was reminding that I am not alone. Millions of us care. This is uplifting to me. Somehow knowing that there are millions of us that have been there-- gives me hope. Hope that I can carry on until that fateful day I know is out there--the end of the long journey my mother and I are taking right now.
I don’t know if this is just the musings of someone who’s on the verge of tossing everything and putting her in a home, he said. But this is a very revealing journey about who I am to me and my family, and what’s important to me.
Good luck Peter. You are good son.