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I have Alzheimer's

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 11 March 2016
Dear Patricia Marie,

I have just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and I don't know where to turn. I feel terrified that I am going to turn into one of those irritating old people who can't remember anything, keep repeating themselves, loses things all the time, and is generally irritating to their friends and families. I have always been worried that I could end up not being able to look after myself, and having to go into a home, and now this is probably what will happen.

Is there any hope for me, or am I now on a downward spiral?

Patricia Marie says...

A diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease can cause feelings of shock, depression, anger and anxiety about how to cope in the future. These are all perfectly normal reactions. You will naturally need time to absorb this life-changing information, and fully understand what it means to you and your family.

When facing difficult times, having a support network of people to whom you can turn for advice and encouragement may give you a sense of reassurance and belonging. The Alzheimer's Society are able to put you in touch with an early-stage support group which could really help, as connecting with others in the same position may put your own experience of living with the disease in perspective. They can also provide information, helplines, lunch clubs, and even home care schemes. Please feel comforted that having Alzheimer's does not necessarily mean you will at any time have to give up either your independence, or living in your own home.

Loss of patience from those close to Alzheimer's sufferers is often due to not understanding the illness. Share your worries with your family about how you may change, and the implications this will have. Discuss also your thoughts for the future, such as who will care for you, when you may need more help to be independent, and whether any legal issues need to be resolved. Being organised and sorting matters of importance can help you feel more in control, and ease your concerns about burdening your loved ones.

Once you are able to come to terms with your diagnosis, hopefully you will be able to move forward and discover new ways to live a positive and fulfilling life. Contact your GP, who can refer you for counselling which could prove invaluable during this time of readjustment.

My heartfelt advice to you is to live in the moment - whether one is diagnosed, or not, with a life threatening illness, no one knows what tomorrow will bring, so please try to enjoy each and every single day, and not let your fear of the future prevent you from enjoying the present time.

Alzheimer's Society Helpline 0300 222 1122

I can't bear life without my husband

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 11 December 2015
Dear Patricia Marie,

I can't bear the thought of Christmas, or in fact next year, without my beloved husband, who died three months ago.

What is the point of my life without him? How do I even start to get on with my life now he is gone?

Patricia Marie says...

Dealing with the death of a loved one is an extremely difficult and traumatic experience, and the pain is significantly heightened at this time of year when others are joyously celebrating the festivities. It's not going to be easy this very first Christmas without your husband, but instead of focusing on life without him, perhaps allow yourself some time to remember the special times you enjoyed with him. I often suggest to those grieving that they could light a candle in memory of their loved ones. Keep a photograph of your husband nearby, and open up to your family and friends, as they care for you and will be conscious of your loss. At times you may feel overwhelmed, but this is perfectly natural. Starting to address your grief, often through tears, does provide relief, and promote healing.

Cruse Bereavement Care offer professional help and support, including group counselling which I feel could be particularly beneficial, allowing you to see that if others can make it through their losses, than so can you. Learning coping techniques may give you hope for the future, and, even better, perhaps supportive friendships could be forged, through experiences shared within the group.

At this moment you are clearly suffering, but you don't have to hurt forever or manage this alone. Be compassionate with yourself as you work to relinquish old routines and establish new ones. Life without your husband will inevitably be different, but, given time, you will hopefully soon realise your life is still very much worth living, and certainly not over.

I recommend 'Death And How To Survive It' by Kate Boydell, a unique, practical and uplifting guide to coming to terms with the loss of a partner.

Cruse Bereavement Care: 0844 477 9400

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