Guest post by Laura Wayman
To bring attention to this widespread and incurable disease, the Alzheimer’s Association has chosen September 21st as Alzheimer’s Action Day. It asks everyone to wear purple to show their support for the search to find a cure.
Alzheimer’s is the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane that is barreling towards us, destined to leave a path of emotional and financial destruction, and poised to bankrupt our healthcare system. While the number of people living with Alzheimer’s continues to grow, last year was an eventful year for research and funding related to the disease. Although no scientific breakthroughs have yet occurred, with perseverance, support, and, most of all, hope, I still believe that a cure can and will be found.
However, at this stage we still have no way to stop, prevent, or cure Alzheimer’s, leaving us with the fact that today we can only focus more on positively affecting how people live with it.
Dementia care exacts an immense toll on both the one diagnosed as well as the one who is thrust into the care giving role. Family members caring for loved one with any dementia often lack the time, knowledge, and resources to help in meeting the overwhelming daily challenges along this roller coaster ride I call the dementia care journey.
And so this Saturday, September 21, 2013, on Alzheimer’s Action Day, I encourage you to take individual action in recognition of how Alzheimer’s (or any dementia) severely affects the person providing care—not just the person suffering with the most horrific illness of our time. Let us focus additional attention on these dementia care champions who truly deserve a day when their courage and fortitude are honored without exception.
As a worldwide advocate for the caregiver—the true hero of our Alzheimer’s Generation—I will be proudly wearing purple to show my support. And in keeping with the knowledge that caregivers who are caring for a loved one with dementia need all the assistance they can get, I also will be looking for opportunities to provide much needed hands-on support.
My action plan for success is to go directly to the care giver and make specific offers of help, such as the following:
- “I’m going to the grocery store. What can I pick up for you?”
- “I’ve got a couple of hours this tomorrow afternoon. May I sit in for you while you run a few errands or take some time for yourself?”
- “I doubled my famous lasagna 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.”
- “With all of the falling leaves, I see your front porch and deck need to be swept and your front lawn needs raking. I can take care of that for you.”
You might even have other thoughts of ways to provide care giver help—feel free to send a list of additional ideas in the comments section of this blog. Even sending a card or making a phone call to check in on a caregiver can mean the world to them. Emails and text messages work, too, but often a personal visit is even better. Contact with the outside world can help lift a caregiver’s spirits.
Are you with me? If you know someone who’s caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease, wear purple and find a way to make a difference and lighten their load—and don’t take a polite “no” for an answer.
Laura Wayman, also known as The Dementia Whisperer, is author of A Loving Approach to Dementia Care: Making Meaningful Connections with the Person Who Has Alzheimer’s Disease or Other Dementia or Memory Loss.