We have been dealing with a family emergency for the past week or so, one that will be going on for a long time it seems. I wanted to share with you our experience so far of dealing with a family emergency while caring for someone with dementia.
At first, the adrenaline rush of dealing with a sudden tragedy made Mom more focused and better able to do things she was not able to do before. For instance, Mom cooked us breakfast on the first morning of the emergency.
Then, the adrenaline rush wore off and Mom became overwhelmed by the magnitude of the situation. She has become severely fatigued and it is even hard to wake her at times. The fatigue and emotional stress has made her at times unable to do anything, even though she wants to care for her loved one who is ill.
For the first few days, Mom went over the facts of the event again and again. She would suddenly become scared that maybe she forgot to give us information she just remembered, but which was really a day or so old. So, for a bit it seemed that her short-term memory was a bit worse, but only as it relates to this one subject. This seems to have lessened as the week has progressed.
We have needed to increase our care of Mom. We are usually able to leave Mom on her own, but one day she was so shaky we felt she was at too much risk of falling to leave her on her own.
It is very important to let Mom care for her loved one as much as she can each day, but we realize that means she is not functional the rest of the time. We just have to make sure she eats regularly and gets back to some of her routine activities, like swimming with her friend in the morning.
As a caregiver, situations like this might make you more stressed than before. At least it does for me, and it seems like everyone in the house is a bit worn out right now. We want to care for Mom as well as our other family member and their family. So, if you are in a similar situation, remember to talk to friends, cut back a bit on work responsibilities if you can, and ask for help with caring for your loved one with dementia if you want to get out on your own for a bit.