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WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?

When it comes to care giving, particularly if you are responsible for an Alzheimer’s patient, love may not be part of the equation. Dementia is a cruel disease. Patients behave in so many unpredictable ways that caring for them is a challenge. Aggression, be it verbal or physical, can be heartbreaking. Such behaviors are not deliberate they are caused by the disease.

You dearly love a parent, spouse, sibling, or grandparent. Then a progressive brain illness takes over. Suddenly the person you’ve always known becomes a stranger. They try to escape from you, refuse to bathe, and accuse you of terrible things. Love seems muted. Sometimes it’s gone momentarily, at other times longer … even for a day or two. Sometimes it dies completely, replaced by duty. We grieve while they live. We may pray for the end to come, overwhelmed with guilt for thinking such a thing.

But it’s not death we wish for, that’s not we want. We want the pain to end––both their pain and ours. We long for life like it was before illness arrived.

We began this journey because we care. We carry on even when we think it’s no longer possible––like waking up wondering what hell the day will bring. Deep inside our patient remains who they once were; and so do we. So we enter their world ready to keep them safe for another day.

That, my friend, is what love’s got to do with it.

 

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