Caregiving Is a Judgment-free Zone
Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease is challenging enough without caustic, inaccurate criticisms leveled against the caregiver. Sadly, it happens, and what’s even sadder is that we caregivers are often the culprits behind it.
Avoid comparing yourself to another caregiver
Comparing yourself to another caregiver may provide you with a false sense of superiority. However, it can also cut the opposite way, leaving a caregiver with feelings of inferiority. Stop the madness! You’ve heard the old saying, “Different strokes for different folks.” Well, the same applies to caregivers. Different caregivers employ different means to provide care that is perfect for and specific to their loved one. What worked when caring for my mother versus what works for you and your parent is different. We are different people with different situations.
Admitting there’s a problem
I’ve been guilty of casting judgment. I am embarrassed to admit such a thing, but it’s true. Thankfully, I wasn’t so rude, or maybe so real, as to cast judgment right to another human’s face, but internally, I asked condemnatory questions.
“Why doesn’t she visit her parents more often?”
“How is it that his or her children aren’t more involved?”
“How can they allow their parents to continue to live alone, without help?”
“Don’t they understand that it’s time to intervene?”
Once faced with my own set of complicated circumstances, I came to understand that there are no easy answers to those questions. Yes, in some cases, family members can be clueless, and fail to recognize the signs that a declining parent exhibits. However, more often than not, circumstances dictate reactions and responses. Think of it: 25% of caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s disease are parents with children under 18. These members of the “sandwich generation” are busy raising their own families. Of course they’re distracted away from what’s happening back home with their aged parents. When they saw them last, the signs may have been buried deep and hidden.
Also, a son or daughter living miles and miles away from ailing parents may take a little longer to get up to speed. Don’t judge them. They’re not staring Alzheimer’s in the face, like someone who lives right next door. It is difficult to catch on to something being amiss from thousands of miles away. Several stages of the disease and multiple vacation visits may pass before an adult child is shocked to discover that the parent they’d visited a few months before is a different person this time around.
Don’t judge a caregiver for placing a parent in a care facility
Approximately 1.4 million people in the United States live in nursing homes. There are a variety of reasons, but 16.5% of nursing home residents are between 65 and 74 years of age, and more than 33% range in age from 85 to 94. These numbers represent a percentage of individuals who have also been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia or cognitive impairments are primary reasons that people move into nursing facilities. They require help with day-to-day living.
It’s wrong to judge a caregiver for considering a nursing home for their loved one. It’s an option that is perfectly acceptable, especially for someone with advanced-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Different solutions work for different families, remember? If I care for my loved one at home, it doesn’t mean that’s the best choice for you, and vice versa. We complete our research and homework, weigh the options, and move forward the best we can in our circumstances.
Circumstances often rule a caregiver’s decision-making. Unfair judgment shouldn’t be one of them.
Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease.