Are You Avoiding People Because Your Loved One Has Alzheimer’s?

February 25, 2010 at 12:26 am Leave a comment

You don’t meant it to happen, but it does. You start avoiding people. You don’t want others to see your parent or your spouse differently because they have Alzheimer’s. You don’t want the person you love to be pitied. You don’t want to have to explain–or deal with the embarrassment. Is there a stigma attached to getting a disease such as Alzheimer’s or dementia?

So your world grows small.

You stop going to church–what if dad acts out?

You decide to skip this year’s family reunion–you want mom to be remembered as she was–vibrant and funny.

You suggest to your husband that he doesn’t attend a friend’s retirement party–people might suspect.

You stop calling family members–or you avoid talking about what’s really going on.

Is this the right thing to do?

I don’t know if there’s a right or wrong here. It’s part of the journey. As a caregiver and family member you have to process how you feel and how you think your parent or spouse will be perceived. You think you’re protecting their reputation, and maybe you are, but does their reputation really matter?

Every family is different, but I’ve found that I wanted to shield my mom in the beginning. She had Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. She was proud. I didn’t think she’d want people to know. (She used to call it “P.D.” because she didn’t want to say she had Parkinson’s).  But as time went on, I got used to the diseases and I got tired of hiding.

So my mom had Alzheimer’s. I realized that doesn’t make her less herself or less of respectable. That doesn’t take away from all the amazing things she did in her life. Looking back, I wish I had been brave and said to the world, “So what? Mom’s got Alzheimer’s.”

I think of that old saying, You’re only as sick as your secrets.

The world is changing. More people are aware of Alzheimer’s.

We take the sting out of the disease when we stop hiding.

Entry filed under: brain fitness, caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving. Tags: .

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This Blog

Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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