According to the 2017 Alzheimer’s Association Facts and Figures research, there are more than 15 million Americans providing unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Some have assembled a team of family and friends so the responsibilities are evenly spread out, but that is not always the case. The solo caregiver manages—or tries to manage—everything on his own.
That’s where those who are on the outside looking in can become a caregiver’s hero.
OFFER TANGIBLE ASSISTANCE. We will never be wrong in assuming the caregiver needs help so rather than saying, “Call me if you need anything” we can ask, “What exactly do you need?” If we remember what we needed when we were on the mend from illness or surgery we should be able to come up with an endless list of concrete gifts of assistance.
MEALS. You need to cook for yourself and/or your household anyway so make a double recipe, pack that extra portion in a disposable dish, freeze it, and keep doing that for a week and deliver one full week’s worth of frozen meals to the caregiver who, receiving your food offerings, can look forward to not having to be creative in the kitchen at the end of the caregiving day. Engage others to sign up for this dinner on wheels program so the responsibilities are spread out amongst many.
ERRANDS. You’re running to the store for a few items; take the time to ask Sam if there’s anything he might need while you’re out. He may need a half-gallon of milk—and he might have needed it for the past several days—but embarking on that task proved impossible for him. With very little effort on your part you can make a huge difference in Sam’s well-being. Maybe the needed item is toilet paper; acquiring that for him makes you a genuine hero!
CHORES. The last task a time-strapped caregiver considers doing is housework or yardwork. You will not insult your friend or neighbor by offering to vacuum their house or clean their bathrooms. Or perhaps it’s a lawn that needs mowing or a flower bed, weeding; that sprucing up will provide the caregiver with a virtual—and literal—fresh view of their circumstances.
OTHER OPTIONS. Sam may turn down home improvement offers but he might say, “What I could really use right now is some help figuring out Nancy’s health insurance statements.” Or he might say, “My wife’s not much of a conversationalist anymore, I’d give anything to have an hour to talk with someone who is. Could you stop by later today for a visit? I’ll even talk politics if it means having someone else to talk to.”
WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE. The family caregiver has so much going on physically and emotionally, offers of assistance can be the salve that gets them through each day.
Grief: Your caregiving friend is grieving the loss of a person who is still with him. Unlike the sudden death of a family member, the Alzheimer’s caregiver suffers the prolonged loss of their loved one—oftentimes called ambiguous loss—because although physically present, the person with dementia is continuously leaving their loved one.
Exhaustion. Physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion sneak up on the solo caregiver and they are killers. The solo caregiver must put their needs above those of the one for whom they are providing care and sometimes they need you, the outsider, to help them prioritize those needs. Just like the airlines’ seatbelt instructions, the person meeting the need requires attention before the one requiring it.
BOTTOM LINE. You have so much to offer the time-strapped family caregiver; your gifts of kindness are more valuable than you could ever imagine.
Do you want additional insight into what caregivers with whom you are acquainted are facing? You can order Requiem for the status quo at Barnes & Noble and Amazon as well as all online and brick and mortar chain and independent bookstores. And if you have already read my debut novel, please consider leaving a review on the online retailer’s website of your choice.
Silent Storm: What We Remember, What We Forget, What We Discover A Novelist Meditates on Writing about Alzheimer’s By Marita Golden I didn’t choose. I was called. That’s how inspiration, art, and creativity work sometimes. I am often asked why I wrote a novel about Alzheimer’s disease. I am not caring for anyone afflicted with […]
September is World Alzheimer’s Month. READ THIS ARTICLE CAREFULLY TO DISCOVER HOW YOU CAN WIN A FREE COPY OF MY NOVEL, Requiem for the status quo.
Several of the AlzAuthors group of writers who have written fiction or non-fiction books on the subject of Alzheimer’s or other dementia are offering special, discounted offers to those who would like to get ahold of a select group of books being offered September 27 – 30, 2017.
I am a member of this group of writers and am offering a total of eight free copies of my novel, Requiem for the status quo: four (4) free Kindle eBooks and four (4) free paperback books (the latter available to residents of the United States only). All you need to do is Like/Follow my author Facebook page, then write a comment in the AlzAuthor post that appears on that page.
In order to get in the drawing for a free Kindle eBook or free paperback copy, you must indicate in the comment section which format you would prefer: Kindle eBook or paperback. Please don’t say you don’t care which format you receive; for accounting and distribution purposes I will only put your name in one of the drawings so be sure to specify your preference.
All those Liking my page and posting a comment indicating their format preference will have their names entered into a drawing that will take place at Noon, Pacific Standard Time, on Saturday, September 30th. I will Messenger the winners through FB to request either your e-mail address (for eBook sending) or postal delivery address (for paperback book shipment) so that I can send out your complimentary book copies the first week of October.
But I am not the only author offering great deals on books – all the books contained within the graphic on this post are discounted during the September 27 – 30th timeframe. Be sure to go to the AlzAuthors website, click on the Bookstore tab, locate the author and their book being offered at a discounted price, click on the photo of their book and you will be directed to the site where their discounted book can be purchased. Since I am personally offering free copies of my novel – as opposed to doing so through an Amazon.com promotion – you will not find Requiem for the status quo in the AlzAuthors bookstore during this promotion.
Tuesday of this week was the day my husband and I had multiple appointments to take care of. After I spent all morning having pre-surgical tests completed at the hospital in preparation for my October 9th hip replacement, I raced home to grab lunch, did some writing business in my home office, and then set out again for another doctor’s appointment that was originally scheduled for 1:30 but my doctor’s office called earlier that morning to reschedule the appointment to 2:45. I wasn’t happy with that change but sometimes – all the time – you just gotta go with the flow.
The problem was, my attitude wasn’t flowing very well by the time I arrived at said doctor’s office at 2:35 pm when the front desk employee told me my appointment was not until 3 pm.
“No, when this office called me this morning to change my appointment time, they specifically said the appointment time was 2:45, there was no indication that 2:45 was the check-in time.”
“I’m sorry, but no, the check-in time is 2:45 for a 3 pm appointment.”
I knew getting all huffy wouldn’t change the current situation but I chose to be huffy – it really is a choice when we choose to be huffy and that’s what I chose to be at that particular moment in time. I’m sure the front desk employee wasn’t the one who called that morning to tell me of my revised appointment time but I guess I felt I had a right to be upset.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t yell, I didn’t accuse anyone of being incompetent or anything as brash as that, but I let my mood transfer to that poor unfortunate employee and it was selfish of me to do so. You see, being kind is a conscious decision we make, but not being kind is a decision we make as well.
Fortunately, I had to return the next morning for a medical test and the same employee was at the front desk. I explained that the previous afternoon when I was checking in for my appointment I exhibited a bad mood toward her and I wanted to apologize for it. She thanked me and added that she didn’t think I was in a very bad mood at all. But I’m still glad I apologized. The Universe gave me an opportunity to make things right, and this time I chose wisely.
Community. That’s what this world needs: a unified body of individuals.
Have you had the experience where you’re having a pretty darn good day and someone says or does something to you and your entire day’s direction is negatively altered?
In the alternative, have you experienced a bad day when someone says or does something to you and your entire day’s direction is altered for the better?
In the former, someone chose to live separate from you; chose to not recognize you as his or her fellow man; chose to harm you and widen the gap between the two of you.
In the latter, a kind-hearted person chose to come out of themselves; chose to join with a fellow survivor on this planet where division and hatred would seek to become the norm; chose to bridge the gap between the two of you.
My modus operandi is that I assume each person with whom I come in contact during my day needs my friendly words and actions in order for their day to improve. I believe in most cases I’ll be right on the money with that MO.
I mean, it sure couldn’t hurt, could it?
On Solar Eclipse Day, my husband and I were taking care of our grandson at our house. We didn’t take him outside, of course, and we decided we would watch the eclipse on the various television programs covering it live.
Our across the street neighbor texted me to ask if we were watching the eclipse outside. I responded that we hadn’t acquired any of the special glasses so we were not.
Not more than a minute later, our doorbell rang and there stood Ian with a pair of viewing glasses for our usage; he had an extra pair and wanted to make sure we had a chance to watch an event that certainly would not occur again in our lifetime.
And what a sight to see! So glad Ian’s generosity made it across the street to our house.
My father was the inspiration for my novel Requiem for the status quo.
I have held three author events since my novel’s release back in July and I have more planned before the end of the year. At the senior centers and independent bookstores where my events are hosted, each person attending is certainly there in support of my efforts, but more importantly, I believe their presence honors my father’s story, a story without a happy ending.
Here’s an excerpt from my novel that speaks of my fictional characters’ dilemma, but it also mirrors that which occurred in my real life experience with Alzheimer’s.
If it’s true that cancer is no respecter of persons, it is equally true that Alzheimer’s disease exhibits the same lack of respect. This disease is a murderer and I’m troubled by the millions of crimes it has gotten away with.
Alzheimer’s is also a robber, not only because it robs a person of his or her memories and future, but also because it exacts an emotional price that few can afford. To be sure, monetary costs are a challenging force to be reckoned with, but many family caregivers and their loved ones would no doubt conclude that the emotional toll on a person far surpasses even the costliest of care fees paid.
Until the person with Alzheimer’s or other dementia becomes blissfully unaware of the disease that is murdering him, he has a front row seat to all that is happening. My dad was the first to know when his senior moments became more than a quirk of the aging process. It grieves me to imagine what he went through when he was alone with his thoughts, witnessing first hand where those thoughts were taking him.
Yes, my father had a front row seat to the effects of a disease that is always fatal. Until he eventually became blissfully unaware, he lived with that fact every single day. If the caregiver thinks she or he has been dealt a bad hand in relation to Alzheimer’s, imagine if you possibly can how that hand plays out with the person diagnosed with the disease. I don’t know about you, but my imagination in such matters paints a picture I’d rather not see.
My very real reward for writing my novel is that my father is honored as a result of my efforts. Additionally, it is my sincere hope that those reading my novel and attending my author events manage to discover that they have a cheerleader in their corner…me.