I am a Care Consultant at the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter. When people ask me what I do, I’m never exactly sure how to sum it up succinctly. It’s not because I don’t know what my job responsibilities entail – I do. I provide families and individuals with a variety of resource information, with education about the disease and I help them develop a care plan for themselves or a loved one. But there is something else that I/we do at the Association for folks who reach out to us – something that is harder to define.
I know what I don’t do: I don’t tell people that it is all going to be okay – it’s not. Unfortunately part of my job is admitting to people that it is not going to all be okay. BUT, I tell them, you are not alone in this. This gets to the core of what I do; I am WITH people – letting them know that this is hard – probably the hardest thing they’ll ever go through and that this is not something they have to go through alone. Here is a quote from a caregiver who recently reached out to us:
You cannot imagine how much I appreciate your email. The support from the Alzheimer’s Association has truly been a life line and I only wish I’d reached out sooner.
It’s not something I can put on my resume’, but the voices of the people I’ve worked with echo in my mind and heart. I know I have made a difference even though sometimes there are no good answers for the perfectly good questions that people ask me. More often than not, all I can do is be with people in the midst of the sadness and the difficulty and the frustrations. “Isn’t your job depressing?” people are always asking me. No, it isn’t. Alzheimer’s disease itself is depressing at times, sure. But my job – my job of being with people- is a beautiful, meaningful privilege.
Kara Johnson received her Master’s in Social Work, with a concentration in Gerontology/Aging from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has worked in the field of Aging for almost a decade in roles that include the Director of an Adult Day Care and Social Services Director at a Continuing Care Retirement Community. Kara now serves as a Care Consultant at the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter where she provides counseling, resources and education to families and individuals impacted by dementia.