How to Love an Alzheimer’s Daughter

My husband recently told me that he doesn’t remember what I was like before my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I guess that’s fair. We only started dating one year before I started noticing changes in my mom and only two years before she was officially diagnosed. We actually got engaged the same month my mom was diagnosed.

My husband knows how to love an Alzheimer’s daughter because that’s all he’s ever known. He loves me and so, he loves an Alzheimer’s daughter. But there might be some people out there who aren’t exactly sure how to deal with it. Maybe you knew your wife or girlfriend long before her parent was diagnosed and now all you know is that she’s changed. Maybe her parent was just diagnosed and you’re trying to navigate your new normal. Maybe you just met her and you already know you love her, but you’re just not sure how to love an Alzheimer’s daughter.

I’ll tell you.

First of all, hug her more than seems necessary. She can never get enough hugs. She needs to be physically reminded of your love and support for her. She needs to know that although her parent may no longer be able to hug her, you can. When you don’t know what to do or what to say, just hug her. Hold her. Never be the first to break away.

Don’t try to fix everything. She doesn’t talk about her feelings or vent to you so that you can offer her solutions. You can’t fix it. She knows that. She doesn’t expect you to even try. She just needs someone to listen without judgement, even if you don’t fully understand what she’s going through. You don’t have to. You just have to listen.

Never, and I mean never, say “but this” or “at least that.” No, just no. She knows she still has a lot to be grateful for. She knows better than anyone because she knows loss better than anyone. She doesn’t need you to remind her. She knows what she has and she knows what she’s lost. She doesn’t need to look on the bright side or think positive thoughts. There’s a time and a place for positivity, but right now it just sucks. And that’s all she needs to hear.

Understand that she will often feel sad for apparently no reason. Understand that there is most definitely a reason. She is watching her parent disappear, slowly and painfully, right before her eyes. She grieves each and every loss along the way, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. She is losing the person who raised her. She is grieving the loss of that person. She is grieving a death that has yet to come. Her parent is becoming someone she doesn’t even recognize and there’s nothing she can do about it. She is sad. She is always sad. She has every reason to be.

Don’t tell her how to grieve. Let her cry when she wants to. Let her talk about her parent when she wants to. Let her show you pictures. Let her tell you when something reminds her of her parent. Let her tell you why it makes her sad. Let her keep all of the things that remind her of her parent. Don’t make her throw them away. Don’t make her go to the places that make her sad. Don’t make her decorate for the holidays before she’s ready. Understand that holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions will be hard for her. Let her eat leftover spaghetti on Christmas and pretend it’s just another day. Let her stop and stare at the Mother’s Day display with tears in her eyes and a longing in her heart. Don’t make her do anything she doesn’t want to do. Let her grieve.

Above all, just be there for her. Hug her. Listen to her. Go easy on her. Send her flowers. Make her a Mother’s Day card from your kids or your dogs. Make her eggs for breakfast. Take her to Panera for lunch. Surprise her with sushi for dinner. Let her buy random things from Amazon and Target. Let her know how much you appreciate her.

Love her.

Just love her.

She needs it more than you know.

She is in a dark and ugly place, but your love will help her see the beauty and the light.

Give her time. She will learn to laugh again.

She’s still the girl you once knew.

 

How to Love an Alzheimer’s Daughter

 

 

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “How to Love an Alzheimer’s Daughter

  1. I can’t love this enough!! My husband didn’t know me before I became an Alzheimer’s daughter, nor did he know my mom before her Alzheimer’s diagnoses. He was amazing during our caregiving road, I couldn’t have done it without him and my family. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My incredible bride and I have been together for 21 years, both now 39.
    When we first met she was an Alzheimer’s granddaughter and I got my first glimpse of the pain involved for the family.

    8 years ago my wife became both a 1st time mother and also a Alzheimer’s daughter in the same week.

    2 years ago her mom had late stage Alzheimer’s but still lived at home. Then additional tough news arrived when her dad was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and he can no longer care for them.

    They lived 14 hours away from us so we had no choice but to move them in and immediately become semi-unplanned caregivers for 2 while also raising 2 young children. My wife has 1 sibling but she’s completely uninvolved, nice huh…

    1 year ago, and badly worn down, we moved her mother into a nearby nursing home.

    Fast forward to today and her mother is final stage Alzheimer’s, and in hospice. Regular hugs and a shoulder to cry on are needed most now.

    I say this all as a very experienced husband of an Alzheimer’s daughter who’s been in the trenches for a long time but regularly needs re-reminders of so many of your points. You are spot on!

    Thank you and God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I’m so sorry to hear how Alzheimer’s has affected you and your wife. It sounds like you two have been amazing caregivers and you are an amazing support to your wife. Thank you for reading!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s