Saturday, February 23, 2008

How does one deal with mental health issues?

Years ago, eager to find out what I could about Alzheimer I joined the support group.
People from all walks of life , men and women, wives and husbands, sons and daughters , we all sat together and each of us could talk a few minutes of the "stage" we were in at home.
Bob was still driving but I was beginning to think this was a mistake. He had not done anything drastic. In fact he had to renew his license and he passed. Much to my chagrin. But , angels were working with me. He announced to the DMV person with great aplomb: "Not bad for a guy with Alzheimer". Bingo that did it. License was removed rather quickly.

In some states like California, the doctor has to report this disease to the DMV and after 1 year the license is revoked. Not so in N C . We live in a retirement town and so help me, there are many people who should not be driving. One of our clients can't write out a check she can hardly see and we saw her getting into this long boat Cadillac and drive away. I was mortified.

Back to the "group" . I was listening to the stories, they gave advice of what diapers to use, what special cover to buy to protect your mattress. How to feed them and help the patient should he or she be choking. That is for the last stage I was told. When does that come?
Well it is different for every person. Voila.
Look , they said at Pres. Reagan (he was still alive then) .
The group was anything but a support group for me. I was besides myself with grief.
I stopped going. I read books and books and all depressed me more and more.
Sure, some advice is good such as legal stuff which you have to do early when the patient still knows what is going on.

One doctor gave us a lecture on the caregivers.
SHe told us that 90 percent of caregivers become ill themselves because they do not
take the time to check their own needs.
One lady sat there with a smile telling us that when she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had some days in the hospital that she was happy.
She was happy that one of her kids had to come down and watch over her husband.
I could not imagine this. Now years later I know this is so.
What would I do without my Lexapro?

I worked for some years as a caregiver with a child , I did respite work.
I adored the kid. He did have violent days and sometimes I went home with bruises.
But I could leave, the parents were there 24/7.
I could not even imagine living with this.
We also know a boy with Aspberger autism , he is a doll, but when he was very young his constant activities , constant moving about, and sing song phrases where something to
adjust too and I can only say that the parents with these children are saints.

Yet, when you work in the field of mental health, how much is available to help you?
How much money does it take? How long before you find the right therapist who can work
with you? If you need a nursing home what are the cost? Will you lose your house in paying the monthly fee?

A friend of mine had to watch over a single uncle with Alz. he needed to be in a nursing home, after all the money was gone from his house, boat and car, he needed to go on the system.
My friend found out very quickly when they started using Medicaid then there was half the
care for his daily routine. My friend reported it but nothing much was done.
The V A does not give you a bed with Alzheimer because it is not "service related".
So much for my soap box today.

Best advice I can give anyone is to do it all one day at a time.
I was a child age 8 when war broke out in my little Belgium. My mom always said that if she had known what the next five years would bring she would have committed suicide on May 10 1940.
She said that living the 5 years day by day was all what she needed to continue and see
the liberation in 1945.

Cheer up if you can and laugh a lot and watch fun movies!

1 comment:

Maddy said...

I'm not caring for my dad with Alzheimers but it certainly is sound advice, one day at a time.

I used to volunteer for the Family Caregivers Alliance locally where we would 'baby sit' to allow the carer some time off. Maybe there is a similar organization where you are?
Best wishes