How One Caregiver and Her Family Bonded to Support Their Parents
Alzheimer’s disease played a leading role in Joyce Bouyear’s life and the lives of her three brothers. Both of their parents were diagnosed with the disease. First, they cared for their father, who passed away in 2013. They cared for their mother, who had Lewy Body Dementia, a form of dementia that has symptoms of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. She passed earlier this year.
Joyce shared lessons the family learned, with the hope they will help other caregivers.
Expected the unexpected. “Growing up, my father had an aggressive personality, and my mother was more passive. With the disease, their personalities flip-flopped. At first, it was hard to accept, but you need to find a way to adjust to the changes.”
Plan ahead. From choosing a power of attorney, to deciding who will handle finances, to planning a funeral, Joyce encourages families to plan ahead. “Talking about the ‘what ifs’ with your family isn’t easy, but it’s important.”
Smile often. “Alzheimer’s patients read facial expressions, so look into their eyes and smile as you talk. It helps them maintain their dignity. They deserve respect and tenderness as much as anyone. If you have family that lives out of town, use Skype.”
Make family matter. “My brothers and I found ways to share our concerns, keep each other informed and make decisions. You have to have family sharing.”
Ask for help. “No one is going to volunteer to help. As my dad’s disease progressed, we hired a person from a local Alzheimer’s companion care agency to spend a few hours with my dad each week.”
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in Clay and Platte Counties. Nearly 110,000 Missourians live with the condition. Neurologist Jeffrey W. Thornton, MD, with Meritas Health Neurology is an expert in diagnosing and treating the disease.
NKCH undersstands how tough it can be to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. If you need support, or more information about the disease, consider this resource.
Alzheimer’s Support Group
3rd Monday, 7-9 p.m.