The caregiver’s role is filled with surprises. Here are some things I learned while caring for my aging mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s.

Myth #1 My family will help out.

What a surprise this was to me. I always got along with my sisters, and I just assumed that they would give me some assistance during the time I took care of mom. WRONG! You just never know what makes people tick. One of the things my husband kept saying to me was, ‘She’s their mother too.’ Well, you’d never know it. When I asked for some relief, they made excuse after excuse as to why they couldn’t watch mom. Then, when I asked for some financial help, they berated me. Don’t count on family members to help out. People do what they want.

Myth #2 Medicare will cover most of the expenses.

Medicare will offset some of the costs for prescription drugs, but Medicare does not pay for long term care. Medicaid will give assistance to those with limited incomes and limited resources. So, the cost falls on the caregiver. For some families, it is draining. When a caregiver has a job, oftentimes, because of the time constrictions, it is lost, which makes it even worse. Their source of income is gone, but the expenses remain.

Myth #3 My friends and family will understand what I am going through.

I will never forget some of the remarks that I received from family and friends. Will she repeat herself the whole time? How will she behave? What will she say in front of everyone? They were embarrassed to have me bring my mom to family gatherings and get-togethers. They didn’t understand that I couldn’t leave her home alone. besides, I needed to get out of the house. I needed time away and other people to talk to. No, they didn’t understand what I was going through.

Myth #4 I can do this. I raised two children of my own.

Raising children and caring for an aging parent are two different things! Watching your children grow, take that first step, babble their first words, those are joyous moments. Watching a parent deteriorate and fade before you eyes, is anguishing. Sure, you have to baby-proof the house, cut up the food into little pieces, wipe the floor under the table, and even change their diaper. But, emotionally, caring for a parent is a totally different experience.

Myth #5 Doctors will know how to treat the illness.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, nor is there any real treatment. If you find a good doctor, he will listen to you and help treat the depression and anxiety that go along with Alzheimer’s. Many times, a victim of Alzheimer’s disease can be very aggressive and combative. Your doctor should help alleviate those symptoms. If the doctor is not doing anything at all, change physicians immediately!