Posts Tagged ‘Alzheimer’s Caregiver’

Attending a Support Group Could Improve Your Quality of Life

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

What Is a Support Group? A support group is a regular meeting of people with the same illness or life situation (such as being a caregiver).

Support Group Formats: Some groups are structured and educational, bringing in speakers; in others the primary purpose is for members to share their feelings and experiences as well as give encouragement and practical advice to each other. Some groups meet in person, others meet online, and still others meet via phone.

Who Leads the Group? In some cases groups name their own leaders; other times a trained professional facilitates the meeting. Some Alzheimer’s caregiver groups provide free care for the person being cared for so that caregivers can be free to attend the meetings.

Meeting ‘Rules:’ The first is usually that any information shared is confidential. Secondly, only one person is allowed to talk at a time. Finally, members are instructed not to be judgmental. An additional rule for caregiver support groups is that the focus is on the caregiver – not the person being cared for.

General Benefits of Support Groups: It can be helpful just to talk with other people who are in the same situation you are in. Although some people may not feel like speaking up, according to an article on the Area Agency on Aging website, it can be helpful just to listen in.

Specific Benefits: According to a Mayo Clinic website article, some benefits of participating in support groups include:

–       Feeling less lonely, isolated or judged

–       Gaining a sense of empowerment and control

–       Improving your coping skills and sense of adjustment

–       Talking openly and honestly about your feelings

–       Reducing distress, depression or anxiety

–       Developing a clearer understanding of what to expect with your situation

–       Getting practical advice or information about treatment options

–       Comparing notes about resources, such as doctors and alternative options

How to Find a Support Group: To find a support group ask your doctor, check with your friends or acquaintances who are caregivers, or call your local Area Agency on Aging or your chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. You can also go to the Alzheimer’s Association website ( and search for a group near you or sign up for one of the online support groups the Association operates.

Is anyone attending a support group? If so, is it helpful to you?

Man With Alzheimer’s Shows That Chivalry Isn’t Dead

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Ed, my beloved life partner of 30 years, had been charming and chivalrous for as long as I had known him. One might have expected these qualities to disappear once he developed Alzheimer’s, but the opposite occurred. He became even more charismatic than before.

I was deeply touched one day when out of the blue he announced, “Since I became in such high admiration of you, other beauties didn’t exist.”

I was amazed that this man living with dementia could still express love so poetically.

But although I was his main “lady,” he flirted with others. Whenever any staff woman was preparing to leave his room he would kiss her hand and tell her how beautiful she was. You can imagine how happy they were if they had to go to his room for something or other! Many of them thanked me repeatedly for bringing him there.

And he kissed the hands of his lady visitors. Furthermore, he did the same when he was out and about in the Center. He consistently kissed the cook’s hand until one day she asked, “Where were you when I was looking for a husband?”

I discovered the clearest sign of his chivalry, however, one evening when I was checking out at the front desk. Betty, the receptionist on duty, said, “I’ll bet that Edward was a real lady’s man in his day. Every time he comes up here he tells me `how beautiful I am. And that he really means it from his heart. That it’s not just words from his lips.”

One day when I went to visit, the cleaning lady was there silently mopping his floor. When he saw me he turned to her and said, “Isn’t she beautiful?”

The next day he passed away.

Yes. Ed was a true gentleman and lady’s man to the very end.



A Helpful Tip for Reducing Your Distress When Your Loved One Becomes Distressed

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

There is a helpful tip that can help you reduce your emotional distress when your loved one becomes distressed over some event. You just have to be aware that people with dementia live only in the present.

 This means that people with Alzheimer’s have several traits:

People with Alzheimer’s disease usually don’t stew about bad things that happen to them. They don’t fret over things that happen simply because they don’t remember them.

Yet caregivers who experience their loved one’s distress over some issue tend to become quite upset. They suffer long after the person with Alzheimer’s has completely forgotten the issue and moved on.

In addition, people with dementia often adjust to change more easily than their loved ones do because they don’t remember how things were before the change. Thus, they are not aware any change has taken place.

Finally, people with dementia typically don’t worry about tomorrow. They don’t experience the kind of anxiety about the future that we may because they don’t have the mental capacity to do so.

So one secret to reducing your emotional stress is to remain aware that your loved one lives only in the present. That way you can be more at peace when your loved one gets upset about something. You will be able to end your own suffering as quickly as your loved one does and then you can move on to something pleasant.



Alzheimer’s Caregiver Resource: The Journey of a Lifetime by Jane Meier Hamilton

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

BOOK REVIEW. The Journey of a Lifetime: The Caregiver’s Guide to Self-Care, By Jane Meier Hamilton, MSN, RN. Infinity. 2010. 129 pages. Available on

Ms. Hamilton has been a psychiatric nurse for 35 years and a family caregiver for 20 years. For 8 of those years she cared for her mother, who had Alzheimer’s. She also founded a company called Partners on the Path (

Many helpful caregiver resources are included in this book. Each chapter presents: 1) A story from the author’s Alzheimer’s caregiving experience, 2) Practical self-care recommendations, 3) Suggested self-care activities, 4) Other caregiver resources, and 5) Inspiring quotes from authors, philosophers, and others. The book also includes questionnaires to help readers assess their caregiving experiences.

The nice things about this book are that it’s short, easy to read, and to the point. Also, it focuses on down-to-earth, practical strategies caregivers can immediately put into practice. This makes it a valuable resource for those who don’t have time to read long, complicated self-care manuals. I highly recommend this book to you.

“Silly Saturdays:” Jan Plays for Four Hours – It’s TOO Long!

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Blog Post (10.01.11)

Alzheimer’s is a deadly serious topic, but sometimes laughter is the best medicine. So I’ll make a “Silly Saturdays” post weekly with some amusing story about Ed, giving us a chance to smile in the midst of our somber life situation. Please send me your own “silly” stories and I’ll post them, too.

As I entered the Alois Center to visit Ed one day it was sing-along time, so I walked toward the dining room. When I arrived sure enough, there was Jan, one of the activities department staff people, at the piano, arms flailing and fingers flying across the keys.

I walked over and sat down beside Ed to keep him company. He looked up, smiled cheerfully, and told me how beautiful I was. He smiled and turned his full attention back to Jan. If she weren’t playing the piano, I was sure he’d be telling her how beautiful she was.

“She’s the most talented piano player in America,” he told me. “She is very famous. Everyone knows her. It is an honor to hear her play. But when she plays, she plays without stopping for four hours. R-r-really. I mean it. She plays for four hours! It’s too long!” Then he repeated himself. “Too long!

I decided I’d tell Jan about that the next time I saw her. I was sure we’d both have a good laugh!

Alzheimer’s Caregivers: Ten Ways to Be a Healthier Caregiver

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

In my last post I listed ten signs of caregiver stress. Today I’m listing ten ways to address this stress and be a healthier caregiver, taken from the Alzheimer’s Association Website –

Please visit this site for a PDF brochure that contains far more detailed information about each of the ten items below. It also has a wallet card with the symptoms of stress so you can do a daily stress checkup. The other side of the card has the Alzheimer’s Association phone number to call for reliable information and support. (1-800-272-3900)

Ten Ways to Be a Healthier Caregiver

1. Understand what’s going on as soon as possible.

2. Know what community resources are available to you.

3. Become an educated caregiver.

4. Get help.

5. Take care of yourself.

6. Manage your level of stress.

7. Accept changes as they occur.

8. Make legal and financial plans.

9. Give yourself credit, not guilt.

10. Visit your doctor regularly.

Alzheimer’s Caregivers: Ten Signs of Caregiver Stress

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Today’s post of Ten Signs of Caregiver Stress Comes from the website of the Alzheimer’s Association ( In my next post I’ll list ways to address stress and become a healthier caregiver.

If you experience any of these signs of stress on a regular basis, make time to talk to your doctor.

1. Denial about the disease and its effect on the person who’s been diagnosed. “I know mom’s going to get better.”

2. Anger at the person with Alzheimer’s or others, anger that no cure exists or anger that people don’t understand what’s going on. “If he asks me that question one more time I’ll scream!”

3. Social Withdrawal from friends and activities that once brought pleasure. “I don’t care about getting together with the neighbors anymore.”

4. Anxiety about facing another day and what the future holds. “What happens when he needs more care than I can provide?”

5. Depression that begins to break your spirit and affects your ability to cope. “I don’t care anymore.”

6. Exhaustion that makes it nearly impossible to complete daily tasks. “I’m too tired to do this.”

7. Sleeplessness caused by a never-ending list of concerns. “What if she wanders out of the house or falls and hurts herself?”

8. Irritability that leads to moodiness and triggers negative responses and actions. “Leave me alone!”

9. Lack of concentration that makes it difficult to perform familiar tasks. “I was so busy I forgot we had an appointment.”

10. Health problems that begin to take their toll, both mentally and physically. “I can’t remember the last time I felt good.”