Linda first began her relationship with the Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter four years ago. Linda’s father had been diagnosed, and she had decided to contact the South Jersey office to obtain information.
Linda and her mother, who is the primary caregiver, began to utilize many of the Alzheimer’s Association programs. They have used the Helpline/Contact Center and the support groups.
Linda’s support group, comprised of adult children of early onset parents, has been particularly helpful. She benefits from the educational component of each meeting and draws great strength from the other group members. She confessed that she wouldn’t know what to do without them.
The Association’s help has proven invaluable on several occasions. For instance, Linda found the Safe Return for Wanderers Program, which uses identification products and a 24-hour nationwide database to recover and return those who wander, after a scary incident a year and a half ago.
Linda got a call one afternoon from her panicked mom; her dad had disappeared. Since Linda resides over an hour away, Linda’s mom started calling around. Her father had wandered to their church, a relatively short distance away. Within a short period of time, he was returned safe and sound. However, this incident was the catalyst for Linda and her mom to enroll her dad in the Safe Return for Wanderers Program.
After his enrollment, Linda’s father wandered again; this time, he left in the middle of the night and was found by the police three miles from their home. Following this episode, Linda implemented several of the security measures recommended by the Delaware Valley Chapter.
Linda’s father became startled in the middle of the night during a recent visit to her house and wanted to go outside immediately. Because Linda had been to the Family Caregiver Training Program a few weeks earlier, she was much better prepared to handle the situation. Linda took her dad out for a ride and eventually-more easily than in the past-got him ready to go back to bed. In her words, “The training got me through a tough situation with flying colors.”
Linda’s mom maintains the primary caregiver role, which can be overwhelming. Linda provides emotional support for her mother, who also gets help from relatives and friends, supportive neighbors who can watch her husband, and a local adult day program.
Linda says she and her husband act as secondary caregivers-researching and coordinating meetings with the family’s elder care attorney, geriatric care manager, and health care providers. It is through this secondary role that she has become an important advocate for the disease and the Delaware Valley Chapter.
Linda recently wrote an article for the Alzheimer’s Association newsletter and participated in an Advocacy Day in Washington, DC. She was a member of the planning committee for the most recent South Jersey Caregiver Training Conference and the volunteer editor for a caregiver training brochure. In addition, Linda was featured in an extensive Philadelphia Inquirer article about caregivers in December 2003.
Linda believes that she can give back to the Association by helping others. She has been able to share her knowledge with friends and acquaintances who are dealing with a loved one’s recent diagnosis. She has participated in Memory Walks and refers others to the Chapter’s programs. Linda’s efforts are much appreciated by the Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter, and we thank her for her courage in helping others with this devastating disease.