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Sunday, October 11, 2015

We All Need Support October 11, 2015




Image from https://img0.etsystatic.com/034/2/5862974/il_fullxfull.657925498_qdg0.jpg.



Nothing is more important for the people who are direct caregivers to a spouse or parent who has Alzheimer's disease or another of the dementias than participating is a support group. I found that out for myself when my husband first attended the Day Club, a day program for people who cannot remain home by themselves all day while their caregiver is at work, or those who need socialization. Mostly the Day Club gives the senior caregivers a break in their non-routine, stressful days.

I wrote about being a caregiver in my book Put That Knife Away-Alzheimer's, Marriage and My Transformation from Wife to Caregiver. I am pleased to report that more copies are now being purchased as the customers go to Amazon to find my second book which just got published. The new one is called The Key, the Turtle and the Bottle of Schnapps-In honor of my parents and grandparents who survived the Holocaust. It tells the story through my eyes as I remember what I heard as a child and what I validated for myself by traveling to Europe to discover the path they took for myself. Readers will see how the title's objects were very vivid to a child hearing these stories repeated as each new relative or friend came to our apartment to see my grandparents.

When I was a child, our milk was delivered every morning  by an Alderney Dairy truck. The bottle you see here is like the ones we received. The milk was pasteurized, but not homogenized, so the cream rose to the top of the bottle. I remember the bottle now as I think about the Alzheimer's Association support group I first attended. We were from 6 to 18 people every two weeks. We came from various parts   of the country. We were of all different ages, mostly women, but a few men as well, just as the milk in those days was collected from many different farmers from many different cows.

We poured out our stories to each other about the challenges, joys and tragedies we faced on a daily basis. We were nurtured by sharing our complicated trajectories.

Now my journey has ended. Three of the original members of this group whose spouses have also passed away, still meet every second week to share our life stories. Our relationship has become richer and more complex. We reminisce, we mourn, we celebrate our life successes. We are separate from the   rest of the group who continue to share their stories, but we are still very much a part of the whole.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Put That Knife Away October 5, 2015








It is so gratifying to me to receive letters from readers who have been helped by reading my book. Now that my new book is up on Amazon, folks are also purchasing the first one.

So many people know someone who has Alzheimer's disease. It seems to be spreading rather quickly and since no one wants to read about it before they see it personally, the people who are responding now are grateful for the information, but also for the insights into how to care for a friend or a relative who is caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease.

Caregivers have such a hard time. One woman we know from our support group is wishing for her husband's suffering to be over. He does not know what to do or where he is supposed to be. He resides in an assisted living facility, but she is there every day, feeding him, changing him and trying to make herself and her spouse feel better about this longlasting illness.She is ready for him to die, but is making every day he lives as rich and as rewarding as possible.

Another woman feels her husband is "not that bad yet." But he has delusions and accuses her of not being caring enough--of his sisters who presumedly are awaiting her to pick them up at the airport! Unfortunately, they passed away many years ago.He was so upset about her failures that he kicked the chair on which she was sitting. How soon before she is injured?

What can you do when you hear these stories? How can you help? You can text or phone or visit. You can send a humorous card or note. You can help the caregiver to feel less alone. You can invite him or her to your home for a visit or offer to go to the market or do other chores which the caregiver does not have the time or energy to do.

Paying it forward through acts of kindness goes a long way toward helping the caregiver. I know how important it was for me.