Friday, July 29, 2016

An Advocate for Caregivers

Yesterday I met a very special man, Rev. Gregory Johnson, who is a passionate advocate for caregivers. He’s worked for years shedding light on the plight of all Family Caregivers, not just those who care for people with Alzheimer’s.  
As a caregiver himself he’s intimate with the stresses involved while caring for a loved one. He’s spoken at the UN, Pentagon, corporations and conferences. He’s written books and pamphlets because he knows that caregivers are often overlooked while most attention goes to the person with the illness. As a minister, he told me, “I’ve buried more caregivers than those being cared for.” 

Greg understands that caregivers need to share their stories, need to take care of themselves, and need respite breaks.  He works tirelessly to improve our lives.   His series of conversations called You Are Not Alone are on You Tube.  You can watch them here:

And THANK YOU to all caregivers for what you do.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Give and Take of Alzheimer’s

I gave a talk on being a caregiver at TEDx Ubud on May 28, 2016 . The talk is now on You Tube and you can see it here:

My caregiver days for my husband have been over for two years but the effects of those fourteen years of caring for him will be with me forever. Caregiving is a lonely business with families and friends often easing into the background, leaving the primary caregiver on their own. People with Alzheimer’s have a completely different operating system than we do. Family and friends may be uncomfortable being with a person living in Alz World, it may trigger their own fears about their later years, or they may feel that it’s too big a responsibility to step in and give respite to the primary caregiver. 

Dealing with dementia on a day to day basis is exhausting no matter how loving you are to the person with it. Encourage the people around you to come, even for an hour or two. Encourage them to enter Alz World to communicate with the person and have fun with it. Tell them to redirect the person’s attention if they stray into uncomfortable territory. You need the break for your very own health and sanity.

Try to start this support system early on in the disease to ease your friends and family into Alz World. That way it won't seem so foreign. 

If you know a caregiver, volunteer to give them a break. It's one of the best gifts you can give.