Alzheimer’s:Benefits of Being the Caretaker

Benefits of being a caretaker

Have you ever considered how caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s Disease, adds value to you, the caretaker?

Providing the necessary foundational requirements of a safe and clean environment, sound hygiene, nutrition, hydration, and routine medical care, is time and resource consuming, often a gift of love to the patient, and offers the satisfaction of giving.

In addition, there are two other possible areas of satisfaction for the caregiver of an Alzheimer’s patient.

First, the fact that language and cognitive functions such as planning, recalling, using devices and tools, gradually dissolve, leave both the patient and loved one or caregiver, with intuition as a fundamental method of communication.

For example, an Alzheimer’s patient who once was technically skilled, doesn’t realize s/he no longer has such skills, may clearly show great interest in repeatedly describing a technical skill which more than likely is inaccurate.

Although we cannot know if the patient truly is interested in telling what s/he knows, or is interested in having someone who listens, take the chance of continuing to listen, despite the words making no sense.

The reason is because as humans we all want to connect to other humans. If you can hear the patient from your own heartfelt place of shared humanity, I’m almost certain you will feel rewarded by a somewhat calmer person, and the satisfaction of connecting to your loved one.

The value of feeling understood seems quite high for us humans. Words are only a means to an end. Sensing our common bond is meaningful in its own right. Reasoned words are not essential for achieving this.

The other benefit to you, the caretaker, is that with so little and thin ability to pretense and strategy in how they relate to you, there is a more obvious than usual display of the patient’s authentic self.

For example, you may see some enduring qualities in a parent which for many years affected you quite negatively, and now, seen in the context of a frail and failing person, lose the power of their meaning in your life.

Can you imagine your inner road opening, by realizing that for all the years of questioning whether your loved one’s particular harshness toward you was reasonable, the fact now of their steady grudge or harshness, despite loss of judgment and memory, reveals their lifelong behavior pattern.

Often, this type of observation puts in perspective, many long years of resolving personal self-doubt.

So, whenever you are able, open your own mind and approach to connecting with your loved one in an intuitive way. Leave the words behind, same as your loved one already has done.

Cherish the loving interactions. And, witness in its purest form, some of what years ago, when the words may have stung, what was more the loved one’s basic character, than truth about you.


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About Sherry Katz

Sherry Katz, LCSW is primarily a couples therapist who counsels partners and individuals of all adult ages, in relieving tension and unhappiness in their relationships. The spectrum of care in her practice includes recuperating from infidelity, clarifying and strengthening trust and communication, restoring and developing common ground for a relationship. Ms. Katz has a secondary practice interest in helping family members align themselves in response to caring for elderly parents, especially a parent who has Alzheimer's Disease.Old Stories, New Views Family Therapy

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