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Caring for Sarah – Dealing with Alzheimer’s (Part I)

Today I will not talk about my mom, Sarah. A close friend of mine has shared with me the story of her mom. Both shall remain anonymous. My friend – I will only identify her as C. – is a caregiver along with her siblings for their mom who lives in the St. Louis, MO, area. C’s Mom is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s with sharp short-term memory loss.

C. talked to me about her two most pressing issues: figuring out how to care for somebody who other than the short-memory loss is fully independent, physically active and still very vibrant; and dealing with sibling disagreement over the best way to care for their mom.

Having done my research, these are extremely complex issues so I shall answer C.’s questions in two parts.

Today, I want to focus on the family conflict part which seemed foremost in my friend’s mind.

 

Caring for an ailing loved one is a huge trigger for family conflict: emotions flare, and get mixed up with extremely complex and urgent logistical issues. Decision-making becomes critical, and conflicting interests and priorities arise.

I have it easy – I’m an only child! When my mom and I look together at a caregiving issue, it’s a relatively easier conversation. Not in C.’s case.

Communication is key to solving family disagreements over caregiving. Often times one of the siblings takes on more responsibilities than the others, which will lead to assumptions, resentment, and miscommunication. Asking for help, leaving rivalries behind, and working together on decisions are important steps to not just clear the air but to actually solve situations. And when situations become too complicated or too emotional, help can also be found by enlisting a mediator.

I would like to send C. in two directions that I found very helpful, and full of information and resources.

The first one is – and thanks to caregiving expert Amy Goyer for letting me know about it – is this AARP blog entry regarding mediation. Although it is focused on the visitation rights of grandparents, it’s chock full of information regarding the critical importance of finding a family mediator, and what do family mediators do. More importantly, it contains links to important websites like mediate.com or the Association of Conflict Resolution where you can find easy to follow, step-by-step guides on how to find a mediator near you if you have never used their services before. Please also listen to this Amy Goyer interview, and follow her on Twitter for more info!

The second one, from Caregiverstress.com, deals directly with the issues affecting caregivers who provide care for Alzheimer’s patients.

More than 5 million Americans are dealing with Alzheimer’s. C., you are not alone and there are many resources and tools to help you and your siblings provide the quality care your mom needs while at the same time help you all navigate through the challenges and stresses of caregiving. I hope you – and others – find the information useful.

Next time as I promised my friend C., I will talk about the early stages of Alzheimer’s and what resources are available out there for caregivers. In the meantime, if you have a story to share or a question to ask, leave me a comment or send me an email to:  gfcardenas@aarp.org

 

 

 

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