As we enjoy the beautiful fall season with leaves changing into brilliant reds, yellows and oranges we also must remember those at-home caregivers who are struggling to care for their loved one with Alzheimer’s or other dementia. It’s a difficult journey, to be sure, and one that most people are not prepared for. They need our help!
The purpose of National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month is to let the general public know more about the disease and how to help their families and friends who are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. What can you do to help or support a family member or friend? You can suggest that they attend a support group. Willson House facilitates 6 groups in Marion and Clackamas counties along with the help of Christy at Golden Life Solutions. Get more information here on the caregiver support groups.
You can also offer to help your friends or family members but you must first of all be very specific. Instead of saying “call me if you need anything” you might say:
• "I'm going to the grocery store. What can I pick up for you?"
• "I've got a couple of hours free tomorrow afternoon. May I sit in for you while you run a few errands or take some time for yourself?"
• "I doubled my meatloaf recipe so that I could share it with you. I brought enough to last you for several meals."
• "Do you need some laundry done? I can pick it up today and bring it back clean tomorrow."
• "Does your yard need to be mowed? I'd be happy to take care of it this weekend."
Sometimes sending a card or making a phone call to check in on a caregiver means a lot. Emails and text messages work, too — but often personal visits are even better. Contact with the outside world can help lift a caregiver's spirits. It might seem like a small gesture to offer a few hours of your time but to that overwhelmed caregiver it will mean the world to them.