Her loved one was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's and each day is increasingly more challenging than the last. While I thought taking care of premature newborn triplets was the most physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting experience possible - serving as the primary caretaker to someone with Alzheimer's is definitely in the same rapidly soul-depleting ballpark.
She usually cannot take him with her, either, because he gets confused and uneasy. He also gets tired and frequently needs to lay down and rest. And during the evening, when my friend should lay down and try to get some much needed rest herself, her husband will be up several times throughout the night - often for the entire night - asking her questions about where he placed his car keys, or wallet, and where is he and how long will he be here? Is he going to be late for school?
Where are his parents?
My friend adores her husband and she tries so hard to be patient and kind. But his questions continue and continue, throughout the night and in to the next day and all through the next day and in to the next and there is absolutely no reprieve for as far as she can see. It's not surprising, then, that she feels herself getting frustrated and overwhelmed. On the one hand, she knows that she is providing him the absolute best care that he could possibly receive. But on the other hand, she knows that the price for this care comes at her own expense. Whenever I talk with her, she sounds completely worn out and sad, which breaks my heart.
Within the past few days, my friend has finally determined that she really needs help to take care of her husband and that help is beginning to take the form of an assisted living facility / nursing home. But now, in addition to feeling exhausted, she is also conflicted and guilt-ridden with feelings that she's abandoning him. Even when, by all accounts to those around her, this is the most logical choice. Although, if she pursues the assisted-living facility option ... it could still be several months before he is admitted.
What worries me and keeps me up at night, is that caregivers are at an increased risk for illness and depression; especially if they do not receive the necessary support from family and friends. I've done some research - but am really at a loss for what exactly the best support is that I can provide to my friend, especially since I no longer live directly next door. If anyone has any advice or suggestions, I'd be forever grateful. And if not, please keep the victims of this disease and their caregivers in your heart.
They are facing an incredibly lonely battle, each and every day.