September 17, 2014

Family members of Alzheimer's suffers battle with guilt of wishing loved one gone

Apr 8

Main Photo
Katie Roupe/Observer-Reporter Judy Keron shares a moment with husband Rudy Keron at the Washington County Health Center. Rudy was diagnosed with Alzheimers seven years ago and now resides in the center. Keron visits Rudy frequently and calls on days she can't visit.

“It might be better if they would just die.”

I have heard that phrase in different forms several times over the last month. Grieving family members of someone living with Alzheimer's say it quietly, feeling guilt as the words come out of their mouths. One woman even said it sounded evil.

These family members don't really want their loved one who they remember to die; now that the person who they once knew as full of life is just a body existing, they want their loved one to move on. They don't want them to move on so that their own life as a caretaker is easier, but because it is heartbreaking to watch someone you love slowly disappear into a shell and just become flesh and bones instead of the loving person they once knew.

Alzheimer's and dementia are terrible, hopeless diseases. Covering this topic has been heart-wrenching, but my hope is that these stories and videos will help connect people who are going through similar difficulties. I hope it allows people to feel some freedom by giving their thoughts and worries words, to know that they are not alone.

I also hope that this can open up a dialogue. For those of you reading and following along on our blog, please comment below with your thoughts and feelings or questions. We want this series to be helpful to our whole community.

I will be posting a blog once a week discussing the people that I meet, my own insights into what I see while working on this project and posting links to articles about Alzheimer's. Please follow along and join in on the conversation.

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The Observer-Reporter's latest staff series will feature Alzheimer's and dementia. Each month, we will concentrate on different aspects of the disease, from what it is, who is affected, resources, and more. This powerful series will go on for the conceivable future.