Alzheimer’s Kids Can Join Support Groups Too

ALZHEIMER’S, YOU AND YOUR WELL-BEING

Sometimes the way to get a clean look at something is to see it in the rear-view mirror.

It is two-and-a-half years since my Mother’s Alzheimer’s journey reached its end.  At the oddest moment it is like a cog spins and a gumball rolls through the chute and spits out another lesson I wish I had learned during those crazybusyjampackedeverchanging Alzheimer’s years.  

In a recent conversation with a friend, I mentioned that my Dad’s Alzheimer’s Support Group had been a terrific resource to him during Mom’s illness.  It became a place of acceptance and a place of honesty for him.  My friend asked in response, if I had attended a Support Group during my Mother’s Alzheimer’s also. 

 

Only once did the possibility that I actually could join a Support Group cross my mind. It was when Mom was in Hospice.  That day I felt like I had been inside the dryer on an extra long cycle, spun and flipped again and again. My nerves jangled from the incoming news from the mountains.  I reached out to a friend for a support group recommendation.  She shared the name and address of her group, and mentioned that they met monthly.  This month’s meeting had been the night before, so I marked next month on the calendar. 

Within a week, Mom’s journey reached her final destination in heaven.

So with the clarity of hindsight, I now encourage all Alzheimer’s Kids – those serving as the primary Caregiver, as well as those who are in touch with their Caregiver daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly –  to find an Alzheimer’s Support Group and join.  To make it their Alzheimer’s Support Group a priority.  

Why?  Because the people at the Alzheimer’s Support Group are their people now.  These people will understand where they are, and support them where they are going.

Today I’m seeing Alzheimer’s Support groups in the rear-view mirror, from many miles down the road.  From this vantage point, it looks like a candle that may have made my trip brighter, warmer, and more peaceful.

Support Dad with his support group

ALZHEIMER’S, YOUR PARENTS AND THEIR HEALTH


“This retired Pastor in my group…” Dad begins, with tears in his eyes. “This Pastor says that over his career, he advised hundreds of people how to handle loved ones with memory loss.  Now he’s caring for his wife who has Alzheimer’s.  And he says that now, for the first time, now that it is his wife, he really sees it.  He really sees what Alzheimer’s asks from a Caregiver.”

Six months before, Dad still was yet to be a “Support Group” kind of person.  But today, stories from his fellow Caregivers are the fuel that keep him going.

I find that I am so grateful Dad has connected with others – people whom he respects and who are walking the Alzheimer’s Caregiver journey alongside him.

I smile with my realization:  try as I might, there is only so much that I can be and do for my Dad.

Does your Alzheimer’s Caregiver have someone who truly understands their daily life?  Encourage them to ask their friends if they know of an Alzheimer’s Support Group nearby.  Make some inquiries into someone who can stay with your Alzheimer’s Loved One during the meeting so that your Caregiver can attend focused and carefree. Consider if there is a way that you can help them attend even just once.  After all, one meeting may be enough to convince your Alzheimer’s Caregiver to attend regularly. This could be a game changer for everyone involved.