Support Me, Please!

Support Me, Please!

I really love my caregiver support group. The people there are now part of my family. In fact, considering some members of my family, I like people in the group better. This support group saved my when I was first dealing with my mother’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. I had no idea what I was facing, or how I would handle it. I know that support groups are not for everyone. Since I have been going to this particular group, some people have come and gone. Some people are not ready for a group environment. Others feel they are not dealing with what people in the group are facing. One woman commented after her first meeting that “everyone is at a different place” and for that reason, she never came back. That’s the nature of support...

You Are Not Alone

You Are Not Alone

Sometimes, in the role of caregiver, you feel alone. You are responsible for the well-being of a loved one and the task can be overwhelming. Dealing with a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia is like putting together a puzzle without seeing the picture on the front of the box. And making it even harder is that the picture keeps changing. It is important to become informed, find support groups, or go to lectures about aging and care giving to find out what you need to know. The truth is you are not alone. Recently, I attended an elder care seminar called Raising UP Your Parents, presented by Susan B. Geffen. Ms. Geffen has a master’s degree in gerontology and is an elder law attorney in Southern California. She has written a book called “Take...

A Quiet Connection

A Quiet Connection

I was traveling recently with some friends. Four women in a car, conversations went on easily. But after a time, as happens, the talking slowed, then stopped and we fell into a companionable silence. It was not an awkward silence. You knew your friends were there, but the quiet offered its own comfort. As we traveled along, I thought about times spent with my mother. Conversations were not always easy. Sometimes the important part was to just be there. To just make contact. I would rub her back, or touch her arm, just some physical connection. It seemed to give her some comfort to simply know I was there. I so wanted to give her some peace and just to have my hand in hers seemed to do the trick. She would smile, and I felt – hoped – I had made a...

Squirrel!

Squirrel!

One of my favorite movies is the Disney animated feature film “UP“. The story is very well done by Pixar and is, at its core, a gentle and heartwarming tale. One of the characters in the movie is a dog named “Dug”. Dug can be very easily distracted by many things, most often a squirrel. It easily becomes a joke to simply say the word “Squirrel!” to imply someone is distracted. There is a lot to be said about the concept of distracting when you are dealing with someone with dementia. To distract is to divert, to change the focus of attention. The attention span in the mind of someone with dementia is usually very brief. You can point to a picture on the wall and start another conversation. You can ask a question about something...

Spirit

Spirit

I recently had a dream involving a very dear friend. In the dream, I asked her for the three things she wanted from me. I don’t really remember the first two, something about an ember or an amber, but the third thing she wanted was spirit. I awoke puzzled by the request for spirit, but it gave me something to think about. Care giving requires a spirit: a strength of character, and an desire to do the right thing. Now having a desire to do something right doesn’t always mean we get it right, or do it right. But having the spirit to help someone is the important part. Helping them get the most out of their life is a good thing, even if we fall short. Having a desire to help someone doesn’t always manifest itself in having the patience to help...