Each year, October 10th is designated as World Mental Health Day. It is an opportunity to raise awareness and encourage action. And while 2014’s theme was focused on schizophrenia, our focus on dementia and Alzheimer’s never ends.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s are agonizing diseases; not only for the person diagnosed, but also for friends, family, and loved ones. And while each person experiences the disease in different ways, a universal norm is that that life can be significantly altered for everyone involved.
Whether you are the patient or the loved one, you should never feel embarrassed of the impact of Alzheimer’s on your life. If you are struggling, know you are not alone. These stories that we’ve discovered might give you the confidence you need to open up or reach out.
CNN, along with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is presenting a series titled “Sandy’s Story,” written by Stephanie Smith. It’s a heart wrenching, yet heartwarming look into the life of a man in his 60’s as he journeys through his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. His goal is to be honest and share the reality of his progress, rather than hiding from it, as so many people do. His words, memories, and his visits with doctors and rehabilitation facilities, along with surprising statistics regarding the disease make Sandy’s Story worth following. If you are in Sandy’s shoes, you’ll surely relate.
Family, friends, and caregivers face a unique challenge when a loved one is diagnosed. The person that you’ve known for 30, 40, 50 years, or more, seems to transform into someone completely new who may not even remember you. It can often be a thankless, stressful job that, for many caregivers, ends up consuming their life. Deborah L. Davis, PhD, wrote a poignant 6 part series for Psychology Today, Monday Morning Dementia, outlining her experience with the progress of her mother’s dementia. With all the responsibility that Davis’ family took on to create a safe environment with 24/7 care, events still took place that left her full of guilt. Her story helps shine a light on what families go through, including the support they may or may not receive from members of the healthcare industry.
No matter your place in the realm of Alzheimer’s and dementia, support is essential. Seeking out support shouldn’t be a cause of fear. Hopefully, these stories can help you know that you’re not alone in this struggle. Whether help is needed for daily activities, cognitive therapy, emotional support, or you just need a support group to help you on the tough days, we encourage you to reach out. Coming forward with your own struggles might even help another person with theirs.