Mar 25, 2012

The Brain of the Alzheimer's CAREGIVER

By Claudia Marshall-Apers
Alzheimer's Reading Room

A spider sits in the middle of its web, spinning.

That spider is the brain of the Alzheimer's sufferer.

You jump into the web to help free the Alzheimer's sufferer. Instead you become trapped in the web as well.

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The spider wraps you around and around with its amyloid plaques and tangles. You suddenly feel like a cocoon, unable to move. Oddly, no one is jumping in to free YOU, the accidental caregiver.

This makes you angry.

But you are too busy dealing with the situation to dwell on it. Yet you don't know how you can keep this up and for how long. What if something happens to me? You feel pretty sure that it will.

Slowly, you figure out how to function in this position in which you find yourself.

Somehow you learn how to breathe, move and meet your own needs as well as those of the Alzheimer's sufferer that you are helping.

You find out that the more you smile and create positive fun experiences for both you and the Alzheimer's sufferer the better they are and the better you are.

They smile. They laugh. They say things that make you smile and laugh.

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You begin to break free.

You have figured out how to provide Sustainable Caregiving.

The spider has not devoured you. A wing emerges. You have become a butterfly.

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Claudia Marshall-Apers is the full-time caregiver to her mom, Pauline, who is in the moderate to severe stages of Alzheimer's/dementia. Claudia is a transplant from New York where she was born and raised and now lives in the beautiful landscape of Rio Rancho New Mexico with her husband and 18 and 21-year-old sons, when they are home, along with their dog Cinnamon. Claudia holds a Master's in Art Education and is currently working on a series of artwork about Alzheimer's/dementia.

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