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I have cared for both of my parents since 2004. Dad passed last February after approximately 15 years with Alzheimers. Mom cared for him until she came to live with us. We placed her in an ALF after we could no longer provide what she needed. Here are some things I wish I'd known early on:
1. Realize that most of the behaviors that your loved one exhibits are normal for a person with dementia and don't take it personally. My mother constantly accused me and my husband of stealing her money. I would never do that!
2. Be patient and then be more patient. Try to understand what they are feeling.
3. I tried to educate myself but, you can never get too much education, training and advice from those who have gone before you in the caregiving role.
4. Search all options and understand that if you need to place your loved one in a facility it is not the end of the world! They do adapt and thrive and are mostly better for it.
5. Find more time for yourself and live life to the fullest, and realize you will never regret the time you spent with your loved one.