Societal feelings towards mental health

Individuals with mental health issues be it bi-polar, schizophrenia, depression, or dementia are still looked upon differently than say someone who has a disease like asthma or Parkinson’s.  It’s not as bad as when they had horrific mental institutes that they locked people away in but there is still a stigma attached to it in some places with some people.

Depending on ones socioeconomic status and what culture you may be from, how families think about and handle mental health problems can really vary.  Being in a lower income status may limit your access to information and care for mental health problems;  sometimes old wives tales become part and parcel of the diagnosis and treatment. And in some cultures they won’t even mention or acknowledge that a loved one has a mental problem.

There may be a tendency for the person with the illness to be taken care of at home by whomever is delegated to have that responsibility and that person may not have much information about the disease or the tools to properly take care of the person with the illness.   I’ve even heard of cases where even when the person with the illness was taken to a medical facility their family still wouldn’t mention by name what was going on and heaven forbid it was discussed outside of the home with friends or associates.   Even I was reticent at first to discuss what was going on with mom to anyone other than family because of fear and embarrassment.

In a phrase – its just something that is not discussed!  But thankfully it is getting better.

True, one may not be able to get the full battery of tests at the cutting edge research hospital if they are far from being rich but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to get the best care they can outside of going to a public clinic that may not have on staff the medical personnel that can properly take care of things.  I still feel to this day that if mom and dad had more than just their pensions and I knew more about what was going on they may have gotten better treatment in the earlier stages of their diseases.  Guilt is a bear…

One of the best weapons against Alzheimer’s, dementia, or any disease is knowledge!  There is great power in knowledge.  Not everything you read on the internet is gospel but it may be a jump off point to get you going in the right direction.  Find out where the local chapter is of your Alzheimer’s Association and avail yourself of it’s free information which runs from a support help line to pamphlets they can mail you to a library where you can check out books.

And don’t forget about the support groups.  But I must make a confession here about support groups.  By the time mom was in a nursing home and I wasn’t as frayed around the edges (but still unraveling bit by bit) every support group I found in my area did not fit my needs.  They all seemed to be filled with spouses or with people whose loved one was still in the very early stages of the disease; this was my mother and she had jumped into an advanced stage.

So I never went to one…but I did find an online support group that saved my sanity!  It met every Friday and it contained men and women caregivers and former caregivers from across the nation who were at all stages of the disease.  To this day I am still friends with two of the women I “met” in that group and we’ve all actually met in real life.

Don’t let embarrassment, shame, or cultural mores hamper you from doing the best you can as a caregiver for your loved one and yourself.

Alzheimer’s Association

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