Caregiver's Corner: Be Not Alone in the Dementia Journey
By Chris Simons, Life Enrichment and Dementia Consultant, Clark Retirement Community
My wish for every person living with dementia or caring for someone with dementia is not to be alone in the journey.
One can never truly knows what it is like to live with dementia. But what people have told me who are on the journey is that it is lonely, scary, and exhausting. Family caregivers often tell me they don’t know what to do or don’t have the training or tools to care for someone with dementia. The experience on both ends is simply overwhelming!
I have had the privilege of assisting a woman in the early stage of dementia with maneuvering through her journey. I have encouraged her to share her situation with her family and friends sooner rather than later. Often this does not happen out of fear of the person being embarrassed, not wanting to upset the family, or not believing that they can’t do the things they used to do. But now that she has the support of her family, she is so grateful. They have taken it upon themselves to learn about dementia, and now their visits are thoughtful and focused on her comfort.
By providing education on dementia and support groups for families, it grants them a sense of relief. Education can include information on personal care, communication, activities, having family meetings, safety in the homes, and how the caregiver can take care of themselves. Support groups can provide an outlet to express one’s feelings. They also allow you to learn you are not alone, hear what others like you experience in caregiving, and have others support and understand you. Overall, these resources offer an opportunity for success in caregiving, which all caregivers strive to have.
Plenty of online resources provide information and support to caregivers, including the Alzheimer’s Association, the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers, and the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan. You may be wondering when a good time is to begin seeking support as a caregiver. It is never too early to reach out for help. Getting the tools to need right away will save both you and your loved one from unnecessary stress.
Remember, Be Not Alone!
The next Family Caregiver University class will be held on Tuesday, December 7, from 1:00pm to 2:30 pm and will focus on Dementia. The class will help us understand the reasons for some challenging dementia behaviors and teach us communication techniques to address them. The experts will also provide ideas on creating meaningful experiences with a person who has dementia and how to enrich the lives of everyone involved throughout each stage of the disease.
Caregiver’s Corner is provided as a public service of the Caregiver Resource Network. The Caregiver Resource Network is a collaboration of West Michigan organizations dedicated to providing for the needs and welfare of family and professional caregivers within the community. Funded by the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan with Older American’s Act Title IIIE, Family Caregiver Support funds.
For more information on Family Caregiver University classes provided by the Caregiver Resource Network, please call (888) 456-5664 or visit www.caregiverresource.net