Support for Caregivers

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My husband, Cleo, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s five years ago. I retired in 2001 to stay home and take care of him. I did this constantly for 10 months. I felt like I should be the one to care for Cleo. I also did not think others could care for him like I did.

I attended an Alzheimer’s Association support group at Forest Park Center and one at Liberty Heights. At these support groups, I met Tanwa Suma, who works for the Alzheimer’s Association. She talked to us about the services that the Alzheimer’s Association offers for caregivers and their loved ones. Tanwa invites presenters to the support group meetings that share interesting and helpful materials. This support group has been a great service and relief for me. I have learned I am not alone, that others have the same problems, and that some may be worse than mine. I have a chance to share and get valuable tips that are useful. As a result of attending the support groups, I have made new friends. I have also participated in the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walks.

Tanwa has also conducted workshops made possible by the superb training of the Alzheimer’s Association. One of these, “Partnering with Your Doctor,” was dynamic and has been most helpful.

I have attended three conferences that have been sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association. At these conferences, presenters share information about available resources for caregivers. Vendors are present that have complimentary items for attendees. Respite care is also available, and this is a great help. Caregivers and their loved ones receive a continental breakfast and a delicious, nutritious lunch. At the conference in June at Mt. Lebanon Church, my husband won a 9-inch. television.

My greatest help from the Alzheimer’s Association has been the reimbursement, which helps pay for Adult Day Care. Attending Adult Day Care has been really good for Cleo because of the social interaction and the different activities. It also gives me time to relax, go to lunch, shop, or just stay home and read. It is important for caregivers to have time alone to be able to regroup, get refreshed, and be there for their loved one when he or she comes home. The reimbursement for respite has also helped pay for overnight and weekend relief for me as a caregiver.

I have received a wealth of valuable and useful information that I have used to help others who do not attend support groups. The Alzheimer’s Association has been a lifeline for me in my job as a caregiver for Cleo. If you are a caregiver and need help, please call the Alzheimer’s Association. Someone there will help you; they helped me.

Gladys Powell

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