BRAIN FOG ~
Brain Fog is one of the realities caregivers deal with, along with experiencing fatigue, guilt, anxiety, grief, stress, “I can do it myself” syndrome and denial… etc… etc… etc.
So what is brain fog and how do we see it exhibiting itself in caregivers?
I recently lost my husband of 51 years, as a result of an accident. Everything happened so suddenly. He never regained consciousness or suffered any pain, for which I am deeply thankful. Luckily, we were able to keep him on a respirator until our children, who live in various places across the US, could get home. I distinctly remember what I was feeling as I tried to function through my brain fog just prior to and months after his death. I am told that the brain does this as a protection to the person involved…. to help protect him/her from the shock and reality that needs to be faced.
I came back home after being in the hospital for 36 hours dazed, unable to remember who I had talked to or what I had said. I realized I could not be held accountable for anything I was thinking, saying or doing. I knew enough to start making lists… of everything… because I knew my brain was not capable of doing that for me.
Caregivers experience similar feelings of brain fog as they try to deal with their loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, FTD, Parkinson’s or another related dementia. Theirs is not a sudden loss, but ongoing sometimes over 5 or 10 or 15 years. The pressures of misdiagnoses, finances, legal documents, doctors appointments, POAs, guardianship, selling real estate, “sandwich generation” issues, personal medical conditions, unfamiliar behaviors, friends and family who don’t understand and numerous other concerns make a caregiver’s life very, very difficult. All of these things, and more, keep them in a brain fog condition for weeks, months or sometimes years.
My learning through my personal experience has made me more compassionate as I talk with and try to assist Alzheimer’s and dementia families who are dealing with extremely difficult situations and are having trouble functioning on a daily basis. As a friend, family member, colleague, neighbor… whatever your relationship with a caregiver… begin to see the caregiver through a new set of eyes. Allow the compassionate, caring, loving side of who you are to surface in order to be of help to someone who is struggling so hard that he/she may be unable to verbalize those struggles to you.
Brain fog will lift when the time is right for the individual living it. There is no right or wrong… it just is what it is.
Photo Credit: http://www.telegraph.co.uk