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By: Aimee Campbell
Alzheimer’s disease affects over five million Americans. That’s one in nine people over the age of sixty-five. One in nine older Americans will begin their Alzheimer’s journey by forgetting things that they should remember-simple things like where they put their keys every day, the name of the butcher that they go to every week, the conversation they had with their grown child just the other day. Then it will progress. Lost conversations turn into lost addresses, lost phone numbers, lost ways of doing the things they have done their entire lives. A lost person.
These Five Million Americans Need Care.
This is often where family steps in. A grown son takes care of his mother, a husband takes care of his wife. What does care of a person with Alzheimer’s entail? In the beginning stages it’s not too complicated- making sure they turn off the stove, carrying a tracking device in case they get lost coming home one day. But the later stages entail much more. People with Alzheimer’s become easily confused and disoriented. The phrase sundowner has been coined to describe those that begin to stir as the sun sets and continue to be agitated through the night. They often feel the urge to complete a task that they felt was left undone- the ghosts of a life that is quickly slipping through their fingers. Caregivers are the ones that are up beside their sundowner loved one. They guide them back to bed as they fumble with the door in an attempt to find their way home. They guide them to the bathroom and back, to the bathroom and back, to the bathroom and back. They will sometimes act as an absorber for hurtful words, flying fists, or a cushion to catch a falling body. A person with Alzheimer’s disease will not just forget names and birthdays, they will forget how to bathe, how to walk, how to feed themselves. The caregiver will bathe his father, wash his hair, clip his nails, bring a spoon to his lips three times a day so he can eat. Caregivers often make the sacrifice of their careers in order to take care of their loved one. Many sacrifice their relationships. The body of the Alzheimer’s patient deteriorates, but the life of the caregiver often crumbles beside them.
The Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resource Center
The Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resource Center acts as a hand that can extend into the darkest of places. They understand the feelings of stress, hopelessness, and depression that can overcome those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. When the focus is on the patient, or on the disease itself, the caregiver can become a silent casualty in the war against Alzheimer’s. The ADRC sees the caregiver and understands the enormous job that they have taken on. The Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resource Center offers caregivers relief and hope in a time that feels hopeless. The ADRC is a goldmine of resources. They offer caregivers weekly support groups. These support groups are a safe place where caregivers can speak, with nothing held back, and receive support and care from people that are traveling the same journey. Sometimes the gift of being heard is one of the most valuable things you can offer a person. The ADRC also offers workshops. Caregivers are given resources on caring for their loved one through the stages of dementia and resources on ways to care for themselves. On top of that the ADRC offers numerous referrals to memory care centers, daycare services, or respite services, all researched by members of the ADRC. Each referral is tailored to the needs of the client.
The ADRC’s Approach
The ADRC approaches the task of caregiving from a holistic viewpoint. Caregivers need to understand the disease physically, mentally, and spiritually. The ADRC offers caregiver classes as well as professional training and curriculum.
more information and to find a support group near you.