Jul 4, 2011

Alzheimer's and Independence Day

Declare your Independence. Empower the "self" within you.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Independence day is celebrated on July 4th in the United States.

This morning I decided to take a look at one of the bigger Alzheimer's online support groups. Pretty much what I expected. A lot of complaining about the lack of support from family and friends.

This is a common lament among Alzheimer's caregivers.

So I sit here thinking, why not throw off the shackles? Declare your independence.

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The Merriam Webster dictionary defines independence as "the quality or state of being independent".

So I suggest if you are being held down by the idea that no one is helping you, its time to throw off the shackles and declare your independence of "spirit".

Independence is a mind set. You get to choose. Dependence on others to listen to you complain (vent), or independence of the mind and spirit.

Why not focus on what you, as an Alzheimer's caregiver, are accomplishing?

Sit down, think. What would the life of the Alzheimer's sufferer be like without you? Have you ever asked yourself this question?

Next, think about what YOU are accomplishing? What is more important? What you are accomplishing, or how others are failing to help you?

How much time do you spend complaining to others that you are not getting help from family or friends? How much time? How often?

Does the complaining change anything?

When you complain to someone that doesn't know your family and friends, what does this accomplish? They tell you what you want to hear? Does this change anything or solve the problem?

I wrote this before. If you want to do something that is meaningful and often effective, get a hard copy of the dementia diagnosis from your doctor. Send this hard copy to family and friends. Let them read the diagnosis first hand. From an independent, qualified, reputable source.

How will they react? That is up to them to decide, it is not up to you to decide for them.

If you want help from family and friends, the first thing you have to do is convince them there is a problem.

Convince family and friends that you need help. Novel idea? Persuade them.

Venting to some independent party is good for blowing off some steam (stress), but it isn't going to change the way things are. If you can't accept that family and friends are not helping, then I suggest you do something about it. Persuade them.

Let's make it simple. Let's say I have a problem with someone. I tell 100 other people that I have a problem with that person. They all agree I have a problem. What did I accomplish? Well, 100 people told me what I already knew. I have a problem.

Believe it or not problems get solved by first defining the problem, and then figuring out all the potential solutions. Often solving a problem requires a well thought out plan before you take action. However, before you start you have to have a strong desire to solve the problem, and the courage and intestinal fortitude to attack the problem head on.

Venting is a necessary part of caregiving. Having someone listen to you does help.

However, venting about the same problem over and over doesn't accomplish much. Sooner or later you have to define the problem and take action to solve the problem.

A successful Alzheimer's caregiver has to think positively. Thinking positively is a process that takes place in your brain. You are what you think.

If you think positively you will feel happy. If you think negatively you will feel sad.

Think about what you are accomplishing as an Alzheimer's caregiver. Allow yourself to feel good about yourself.

Address problems with family and friends with family and friends. Give them the hard copy diagnosis letter from the doctor. Ask them, directly, to help you and your loved one. Tell them what you need, be specific. Make sure you are armed with a plan that you can lay out and explain.

Throw off the shackles of negativity. Attack the problem head on. Bring the situation to a resolution. Accept the outcome.

Declare your Independence. Empower the "self" within you.

More Insight and Advice for Caregivers

Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 2,800 articles with more than 602,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room