New Year’s Resolutions for Alzheimer’s

New Year’s Resolutions for Alzheimer’s
As I flowed through the various Cybex machines in the gym, I greeted an acquaintance of mine who seemed to be hanging out at the chest press machine- steeped in thought. “A Happy and Healthy New year!” I chirped. Linda frowned, receiving my cheery greeting as an example of mordant humor. She explained that she had been recently experiencing hip pain and before that she had a bout of knee pain. “I had a cortisone shot in my knee and that took care of the pain. Then I had a shot in my hip, but it didn’t work. I’m going to see the doctor to see if a second one might do the trick.” Her face looked more taut than usual as well as a bit flushed, a possible reaction to the shot. “What’s going on?” I asked. Linda told me that her mother who was the mid- stages of Alzheimer’s was driving her crazy. “Don’t you have an aid who takes of her?” “Yes, but the minute my mother hears me come home from work or walking the dogs, I hear my mother shrieking, ‘Linda, help! Linda, help me! I can’t handle her screaming my name when I’m home.” “How about trying some ear plugs?” Linda smiled and thought it was a good idea.

Of course, Linda, a “boomer babe” could be arthritic, but I have a feeling that Linda is so stressed, that there is an inflammation brewing in her body which manifests in her weakest link – her skeletal frame. And after the hip pain diminishes, she might have other inflammatory responses. Living with the chronic stress of Alzheimer’s in a mother/daughter house is taking its toll on her, physically and emotionally. Linda had a very close relationship with her mother who was literally her best friend and who took Linda in after a heartbreaking divorce. Her mother used to be her confidante and the verbal repartees between the two of them were so entertaining, they could have been written by Broadway playwright, Neil Simon. But now…

Resolve to be a better caregiver:
  • Work it out. Exercise will move the stress out of your body and mind.
  • Let go of the past – how ironic! Linda needs to get into the present and stop comparing her mother to what she used to be.
  • Don’t be a martyr. Don’t feel guilty about creating some R & R for yourself. Set boundaries.
  • Open up and share with friends or join a support group to release your thoughts and announce your reality to others. If you are suppressed and silenced, you are damaging your heart – physically and metaphorically.
  • Don’t obsess about inheriting the disease; genes are tricky and lifestyle has a big impact. Eat balanced meals, exercise and manage the daily stressors while you live your life instead of thinking about it.

For more information on managing your stress and reclaiming your life read my book, Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show

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