I know, you don’t have time to breathe, much less find and join a support group. You are so busy providing care, running errands, taking care of the rest of your family and being an all around Saint to do anything except keep your head barely above water with your current responsibilities as you battle Alzheimer’s disease.
But before you count the idea of joining a support group out completely, consider the following excerpted from AARP’s Caring for the Caregiver (click her for entire article):
“Caregivers stand at particular risk for a host of mental and physical illnesses, many of which have roots in stress, exhaustion, and self-neglect—symptoms some medical professionals have begun calling caregiver syndrome.”
“Caregivers appear more likely than noncaregivers to get infectious diseases, plus they are slower to heal from wounds, says Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, Ph.D., director of the Division of Health Psychology at Ohio State University in Columbus. Kiecolt-Glaser has conducted several caregiver research studies with her husband, immunologist Ronald Glaser, Ph.D.”
“Caregivers also have greatly elevated blood levels of a chemical that is linked to chronic inflammation. And that puts them at increased risk for heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases. Notably, says Kiecolt-Glaser, those levels are still high three years after caregiving duties end, especially among caregivers over 65. What’s more, the studies found a greatly increased risk for anxiety and depression.”
Exhausted, anxious, and pressed for time, caregivers, she says, “tend to lose their networks and separate from their friends.”
So, you don’t have to take my word for it, Kiecolt-Glaser, is one of many researchers noting that caregivers need support. Not just help with the daily activities of life. Although, that’s a great place to start.
Caregivers need emotional support as well. The good news is that there is help. Here are just a few places you can go for some help.
The Alzheimer’s Association. I can’t say enough good things about this organization. Yes, it’s huge, but its also very personal. They have a 27/7 helpline. They can help with everything from housing options to what to do about wandering. Here’s the number, I encourage you to use it and get connected with a local chapter. 1-800-272-3900. You can also find the Alzheimer’s Association at www.alz.org
I promise you, the support group won’t be comprised of a bunch of people sitting around complaining. Rather, you will find that they are much like you. Tired, struggling and trying to provide the best care possible for their loved ones. You’ll realize that you are not alone and that there are people who understand and can relate to your situation.
Another option is getting on-line support. Blogs like this one are great places to get information, vent and be part of a community. Here are a few other online resources.
ELDR.com has a forum/support network for Alzheimer’s disease
So, friend, I encourage you. Get some support as you do this difficult, but important work.
So, what do YOU think? Are you a part of a formal or informal support network?