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Alzheimer's Caregivers' Experiences and Support - Aging Wisely

As an Alzheimer’s caregiver, it can be helpful to hear from others who are also caring for a loved one. Caregivers get a lot out of attending a support group, from lessening their feelings of isolation to getting great tips and resources. Some support groups offer respite care so that the caregiver can attend without worries about what they will do with their loved one during that time. Another option is to get online support, via various websites or groups on social media where caregivers share information and concerns.

As you face particular challenges, seeking out professional help and guidance may be the best route for identifying solutions that will work. A professional geriatric care manager can provide advice for your specific situation, or do an evaluation/assessment to give you recommendations based on their professional observations combined with your knowledge as the caregiver.

We offer some recommended reading for caregivers as well, which may help you during your Alzheimer’s caregiving journey. We recently came across a book entitled Staying Afloat in a Sea of Forgetfulness: Common Sense Caregiving by Gary LaBlanc. The book is a compilation of articles written during his caregiving experience. Gary writes with a straightforward approach, and you can read short excerpts as you have time, versus trying to digest a large amount of material.

We asked Gary to share some information on his journey as an Alzheimer’s caregiver in a recent interview:

Give us a brief overview of your background as a caregiver. My Father and I worked side by side for 18 years in our co-owned used bookstore. So I actually got to witness the disease of Alzheimer’s from day one all the way to the devastating end. I became my father’s caregiver for the last decade of his life.

How did you decide to begin writing on the subject and how did the book come about? I was actually working on a third novel of a trilogy, when I briefly started writing short stories about my experiences of caring for my dad. Everyone who I allowed to read them, all said the same thing, “You need to do something with these.” This is what got me to start my column “Common Sense Caregiving,” which has now been published every week for the past two years. After my father past in July of ‘09, I decided to take 65 of my articles, rewrite them with the main goal of making sure they were in a caregiver-friendly manner as possible.

What did you find to be the greatest challenge as a caregiver? I honestly have to say that the delusions and hallucinations my father went through were extremely difficult for me to deal with. But, toward the end of the campaign, the lack of sleep was the hardest physical element I dealt with.

What were some of your rewards or growth experiences as a caregiver? The satisfaction of knowing that by keeping my dad in the comfort and safety of his own home, he had a feeling of content and his demeanor in general was positive. I believe he got the most, out of a horrible situation, and that was rewarding.
As for the growth part, being a caregiver, you well find that there is more endurance inside of you, than you ever believed. Without a doubt, when this crusade is over, you will become a morally stronger person.

What do you think are some of the unique challenges of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease or another form of dementia? Learning to have patience and learning to make sacrifices. For example: Putting your social life on hold.

What is your #1 recommendation for caregivers? One word; Routine!

Contact us to find out how we can help you during your journey as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver.

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Our goal is to enable every individual we work with to live the most fulfilling life possible, with utmost dignity, focusing on their physical, mental, spiritual, family and financial wellbeing.