Fifteen years ago when my husband and I were suddenly thrown into the position of dealing with his parents, one beginning to suffer from dementia, we had no idea where to turn. We were so lost and overwhelmed as we slowly figured out how to deal with the daily complications. For the most part we did it alone – not aware of all the support services that exist right here in our community. So we learned.
Fortunately for us and our family, we had a little more knowledge (or experience) when we began dealing with these same issues with my parents three years ago. We spoke to Sam Boone, the elder-law attorney who writes in every issue of the Caregiver Chronicle. Sam told us about some of the available resources – Elder Options, Veterans Aid and Attendance, Alzheimer’s Association, home-care services, to name a few. It was so overwhelming as we were working on determining what was happening to my father and how to help my mother, his primary caregiver, deal with it while maintaining her health.
We slowly began contacting some of these resources for information and assistance. Cheryl Robinson, whose efforts make the Caregiver Chronicle possible, also told us of the many available resources. We participated in Elder Options’ Savvy Caregiver training, some of the Alzheimer’s Association’s training, enrolled my father in Al’z Place, an amazing daycare program for those with Alzheimer’s, worked with the VA to obtain veteran’s assistance and worked with home-care services. Of course, each day is still a struggle, but we are not alone and have wonderful resources to help us get through each day.
I cannot say it is easy to deal with this, but we are definitely fortunate to have made all of the wonderful connections to so many caring people. I consider all of these amazing people as friends, as well as guardian angels.
I try to share information whenever I can because just knowing who to contact has made a huge difference. My mother and I continue to participate in caregiver training/seminars – we learn more about Alzheimer’s disease, we learn information about new findings and we also learn the importance of doing some things for ourselves.
Passing on information about the available resources to help those of us who are caregivers is the most important thing I can do right now – I know how much it has meant to me and my family.
Written by Marcia Greenberg