The following is an excerpt from the book, The 36-Hour Day, by Mace and Rabins. This is a book that we at the Alzheimer’s Association frequently encourage folks to purchase from us, or from their favorite book-seller because it’s an excellent reference for caregivers. We do not encourage caregivers to read it cover to cover after a diagnosis is made – that can be much too overwhelming. Instead we encourage them to think of it more like an encyclopedia for dementia, where they can look up specific concerns or stages as they arise. I particularly like this except because as much as I want to let caregivers off the hook (because they have the hardest most never-ending job in the world!), many caregivers make a lot of excuses for not attending a support group. Here are some of them and some suggestions for getting past the excuse and into a position where you can get the support you need and deserve.
I’m not a group type of person. The families we know say, “Go anyway,” even if this is the only group you ever attend. These disease are so terrible and last so long that our usual methods of coping are not sufficient. We all can use suggestions on how to cope. Just hearing that someone else deals with similar problems can renew your energy.
I can’t leave the person who has dementia. Fatigue can lead to inertia. It is easier just to stay home than to find a sitter or to put up with the objections of the person who has dementia.*
I can’t talk to strangers. The people in support groups have faced similar problems and won’t remain strangers long. If you are shy, just listen the first few times.
I can’t drive at night. Ask the group leader if someone can pick you up. Although problems like these are real concerns, letting them keep you from getting the support you need indicates your depression and fatigue. There are ways around these problems if you are determined. **
Sometimes a particular support group is not right for you. For example, if all the members have their family member at home and yours is in a nursing home, you may feel as if you don’t fit in. Many areas have several support groups;visit another group, or attend a chapter meeting and ask around for a group that has concerns similar to yours.
Support groups aren’t for everyone. Some people do not need the extra support these groups give. Others find it more comfortable to talk individually with a a knowledgeable person. Before you decide you don’t need to attend a support group, we urge you to try one a few times. ***
*The Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter offers a telephone support group for folks who have trouble getting out the house because they are caring for a loved-one. Call us at 800-272-3900 for more information.
**Again, call us for information on our telephone support group OR find a group that meets in the day-time from our list: http://alz.org/georgia/in_my_community_support.asp
***If you prefer one-on-one support, we also have a peer-to-peer support program called A Time to Talk – call us and ask about this program at 800-272-3900