In my practice, I counsel caregiver spouses and caregiver children; people who are caring for loved ones with dementia. One fact has become obvious to me: Caregivers do the very best they can.
Most embrace the caregiving challenge. Someone they love needs them and they want to help. Along with that embrace, caregivers go through moments of sheer frustration. Caregiving of this type can rub raw an array of exposed physical, psychological and spiritual nerves. These feelings are normal and natural. Don’t let them make you afraid. And don’t let them cause you to give up.
Caregivers can often use someone to turn to; a guide; someone who has “been there and done that”! Well, guess what – there are an array mentors and supporters for caregivers. And in most instances they are right in our community. And they can help!
I suggest that caregivers start by reaching out to the Alzheimer’s Association and similar illness-specific groups. These are people, volunteers and professionals who understand all too well the struggle. The Alzheimer’s website at www.alz.org is a great place to start. You can find ways to reach your local chapter, as well as tips and information about caregiver support resources, including support groups. Dementia, by its very nature, is an isolating condition. Caregivers must go out of their way to avoid becoming isolated themselves. And the Alzheimer’s Association is an outstanding starting point.
Our local health care providers, particularly those who treat more seasoned patients, are also excellent sources for referral information. From them, caregivers can learn more about in-home assistance, long and short-term respite care, and other day-care options that can offer a break for caregivers. Life’s frustrations are softened, and our ability to tolerate is enhanced, when we have a chance to pause and renew our spirit. Ask your loved one’s health care professional about resources that can help.
Contact your local Agency on Aging for area specific referrals; for Hampton, Newport News, York County, James City County, and Williamsburg: http://www.paainc.org/; for Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck http://bayaging.org/.
If you have been accustomed to finding friendship and support at your house-of-worship, you should know that most religious denominations, as well as many individual churches, mosques and synagogues, have resources and people who can help. Check in with a church leader. His or her advice and love might open great doors. The truth is there are few adults whose lives have not been touched by a friend or family member with dementia. Finding an empathetic and experienced ear at the same place where you have already found spiritual fellowship and support just makes great sense.
Perhaps you would prefer to start your caregiver journey by means of study and research. Bookstore and libraries offer a great variety of resources. We even have a local author, Suzette Brown, who has published an excellent book that explores the personal stresses of caregiving. The Book is entitled: Alzheimer’s: Through My Mother’s Eyes. You can learn more about this resource at: www.alzheimersandflowers.com .
No matter which of these resources you turn to, I suggest one additional place to turn: The Heritage Law Group (yes, you knew that was coming!). There are so many ways that we can help caregivers and loved ones so that they can focus on their mission.
Our attorneys include a Certified Elder Law Attorney, another attorney with an advanced law degree (L.L. M.) in estate planning and elder law, and additional attorneys with years of experience in elder law. We have years of experience helping clients with patient and compassionate care. In addition, our firm has over forty years of combined experience with elder law, estate planning, guardianships and conservatorships, and estate and trust administration. Please call us at (757) 659-0006 and arrange for a consultation so that we can talk about the type of help that would best suit your situation.
Help is out there. Caregiving need not and should not be a solitary journey.