A serious illness such as Dementia or Alzheimers can creep up on you. Your relative may spend several months just being a bit “tired” or “having senior moments” when they forget things, get lost on the way home and have the same conversation with you 5 times in a few hours.
When a diagnosis is finally made, even though you may have been expecting it and it’s been at the back of your mind for a while – it’s always a shock. It can turn you from a normal family with all the usual stuff that goes on to being an injured family, grieving for the person you’ve “lost” and not knowing what the future holds.
For the elderly parents “children” (now in their 50’s or older) many revert back to the patterns of behaving they had when they were small, with all the rivalries and history that entails. They feel the “loss” of their parent, even though they’re still alive.
Many people hold to the “tribe” rule – that you must be there at the hour of need and how you respond to this is a measure of how much loyalty and love you have.
This can be very difficult to deal with – particularly when family members are scattered across the country or continents as is often the case today. Even if they all live within 500 yards of each other or in the same house, this unspoken rule still holds.
With health care improvements people are living much longer than their predecessors. Their children may not live close by, are still working, may be looking after their grandchildren and are not in a position to give up work to Care.
People often feel “judged” about what they do or don’t do for their relative and family once it’s clear that Care responsibilities are involved. The services that are there are not coping well and Care falls frequently to the family to either manage or provide.
Many people talk about going through “stages” of Care. What works for a while can suddenly change and more services, medication, time is needed, whilst all the time people know at the back of their mind that an end is inevitable, but you don’t know when that will be.
All this can be completely overwhelming for even the toughest person and trying to cope with working as well is really challenging. Giving up work may not be an option financially so ways need to be found for people to continue to work, to keep their businesses going and to maintain their own sense of being at a time when they can’t predict what will happen next.
Families need to pull together if they can, setting old arguments aside or they will become further damaged and potentially unrepairable.
Do you know someone in this situation – trying to cope AND work?