Question: I have cared for my wife for 17 years she is in the latter state of Alzheimer's. I'm worn out and need help.
Dr. Amy: Caring for someone for 17 years is a very, very long time. I am sure you must feel completely depleted. Being a caregiver is a marathon not a sprint and you have absolutely run a marathon. No wonder you are exhausted.
I don’t know from your letter if you have had any help over the years. You certainly need it now as you make the final journey with your wife. I encourage you to reach out for both emotional and task support. There are a number of resources you can turn to. One of the best is a geriatric care manager. They know a lot about the aging process and Alzheimer’s disease (and other forms of dementia). They also have an excellent understanding of public and private resources—as well as funding sources. In just one consultation you will get a lot of answers. You can read more about geriatric care managers here.
If a geriatric care manager is too expensive, I suggest you call an adult day care in your area. You could also call a home care provider—they are excellent at assessing your needs and explaining what they can do for you. In addition to providing company, a homecare service can also prepare meals, take care of light housekeeping and run errands.
I also encourage you to check out http://helpforalzheimersfamilies.com/ This is an excellent resource developed by Home Instead Senior Care. It contains a wealth of information and ideas. The Alzheimer’s Association also has great resources related to caregiver stress.
I send you strength and hope that 2014 brings you peace. I hope you feel proud of everything you have done for your wife and the care you have given her.
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