Remember the caregivers, their responsibilities are hard
This November, during National Family Caregivers Month, we recognize the impact of caregiving and honor the more than 16 million Americans caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. As a caregiver for my husband, who has an unspecified dementia, I can testify that under the best circumstances, caregiving is challenging, but it has been exacerbated this past year. When my husband was first diagnosed five years ago, there were barely any noticeable differences – he was still driving and very much independent. Slowly things shifted. He began getting lost walking the dog and it came to a point where he couldn’t be left alone.
In September, he was placed in a skilled nursing facility over an hour away. COVID restrictions have impacted our time spent together, but we try our best to work through it. On our window visits, I’ll play his favorite songs or read a book out loud. His birthday just passed and I brought one if his favorites – a bucket of KFC – so we could celebrate as best we could. It’s very taxing emotionally though and I knew I needed to reach out for support. I have leaned on the Alzheimer’s Association support groups, which have been held via phone during the pandemic. Being able to connect with others who understand that sometimes there aren’t real solutions and just the act of listening is what is needed, has been comforting.
This month, take time to think about how you can support a caregiver. Make a standing appointment to give a caregiver a break, ask for a list of errands that need to be run, and educate yourself about the disease — the more you know, the easier it will be to help. Reach out to the Alzheimer’s Association and get involved. Little acts can make a big difference.