At first you don't even notice anything is different. Things float along like they always have with an occasional hiccup, which you dismiss as a normal annoying occurrence of life. After all, things go wonky for all of us every now and then, right?

Then the annoying occurrences seem to increase, or they annoy you more - you are not sure which. You begin blaming yourself. You feel like your expectations are too high. Perhaps you are stressed out. Maybe things have always been like this and only now they are starting to bother you.

You finally accept that the person has a problem. They are forgetting things, making bad decisions, taking longer to do absolutely everything. While you suspect Alzheimer's, you keep telling yourself you are over-reacting.

Eventually you get the official diagnosis - Alzheimer's it is. And at that point things seem to take a dramatic turn for the worse. Their behavior gets markedly worse. They forget the strangest things (where they live, how to get to the store, where the pharmacy is). You spend every moment they are gone wondering if they will make it back. You spend hours looking for them, guiding them back home. You all try not to mention the actual word, yet you all know what is happening.

We are now in stage...Next. The diagnosis is in. We understand what we are dealing with. We have taken away her car. We help her get dressed, make sure she eats, buy everything for her, give her all medication, make sure her dog gets fed. We have to give her 2 hours to get ready to go pretty much anywhere, and assume we will be late anyway. It is still manageable...but we are approaching the end of being able to do this ourselves.

I try to be positive. I assure her that I enjoy helping her, that I want to make things easier for her. And while that is very true, because I love her dearly, part of me is fighting this new stage. I don't want to take care of a parent. I don't want to be caregiver to yet another person. I don't want everything to be put on hold while we deal with this latest crisis. I know it is selfish, and I try to push those thoughts out of my head...yet there they are.