Alzheimer's and the Single Child
September 14, 2016 3:59 AM   Subscribe

My partner's mother has had a size medium case of the Alzheimer's for years now. The father passed away long ago, there are no other blood family to speak of, and my partner is feeling pretty crushed by feelings of guilt and anxiety. Short of a support group (no time) or a therapist (already got one), what're resources, techniques, and tools, from cognitive tricks to fictional books, that will help my partner deal with the serious guilt and anxiety of feeling like they're not doing enough? (Just to be clear: A) the mom is doing physically fine and has a great set up, this is not about her, but about their child, my partner, and B) my family and I are pretty great and help as much as we can, which is a lot; again, this is not about how to help the mom more, this is about helping my partner deal with feelings of guilt and anxiety that they are not doing enough.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (5 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
How about a comic? Tangles is a comic about a woman dealing with her mother's alzheimers.
posted by csmithrim at 5:49 AM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Roz Chast is an only child who dealt with her parents' aging in a graphic* memoir, Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

*graphic as in "illustrated," not "explicit"
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 5:58 AM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

The very best resource I have found are message boards. They will help bash the guilt monster, which I know well from being an only child/sole caregiver for a mother with dementia. This UK one, Talking Point is very robust and supportive. The US one is useful for US specific issues like Medicaid and nursing homes.

With regards to dementia caregiving, one always feels one is not doing enough, because the disease takes everything, especially reason and happiness, away from everyone involved. Help her know that whatever she does is what she can do, and that happiness can no longer be the goal. Safety, health, patience--these are the goals, for the caregiver and the demented.

Edited to add: I took up meditation early on in this journey and it helps me every day.
posted by Riverine at 7:36 AM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

NAMI has great support groups but not everyone has time or geographic ability to go to them. They have a little app that I don't know much about called NAMI Air which can be a great place to go anonymously to just talk. They also have some good "support for caregivers" stuff which you can find on various NAMI websites.

Also classic anxiety management tips will help just generally, from basic ones like watching caffeine, getting exercise, working on sleep, to doing things like therapy and meditation. It can be really hard to take time out for yourself, but even small sel care stuff like that can build resilience for dealing with other challenges.
posted by jessamyn at 2:43 PM on September 14, 2016

The burden of illness on caregivers is enormous and well-recognized - and caregiving is literally a risk factor for the caregiver's own mortality - so you're right to be concerned.

The Alzheimer's Association has a help line -- and there are lots of resources and reading materials and links on the website. Your local chapter offers a variety of programs and services for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their family and friends. These programs and services provide information, education, support, and guidance for every stage of the Alzheimer’s journey. Most programs and services are free. For example, here's one called Essential Skills for Family Caregivers.
posted by acridrabbit at 7:25 AM on September 15, 2016

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