Hello, my name is Beth. Several years ago, my dad was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia—a type of frontotemporal dementia that affects a person’s speech, language comprehension, behaviour and eventually, memory. Initially, my mom was his primary caregiver and she chose to keep her caregiving challenges to herself as she didn’t want to burden her family and friends. She also felt that others wouldn’t be as accepting of dad due to his declining speech, his inability to communicate effectively and his sometimes inappropriate behaviour. Because of her fear, nobody including myself and my siblings, were able to understand the full scope of dad’s disease until they ended up in a crisis.
It was at this time that I brought both my mom and dad to live with me. It was during this transition that mom began showing some changes in her mood, behaviour and memory that we chalked up to caregiver fatigue and depression. Unfortunately, a few months later, she too was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Now that I was a caregiver to two loved ones with dementia, I knew that I couldn’t follow the same caregiving path that my mom had followed. I needed support! That’s when I called the Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick and attended my first Alzheimer Journey Education Series. It was there that I learned about the many types of dementia and its progression as well as other resources available in my community.
I now work for the Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick at the Miramichi Resource Centre and get to share my story every day! Because of my mom’s experience, one of my priorities has become finding ways to help people work through the fear of negative reactions from friends, family and community. These feelings of fear can drastically impact the well –being of caregivers and decreases their ability to effectively manage the changes brought about by dementia.
Thank you for reading my story.