My name is Susan Bithrey. I am a caregiver.
My life has been transformed since my husband Reg was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
In September, which is World Alzheimer’s Month, we learned that 35 million people around the globe have a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. But behind these diagnoses are those who are thrust into the role of caregiver. A new report from Alzheimer’s Disease International highlights their ever growing ranks and how caregivers worldwide lack proper support.
If you took up the mantle to care for someone with dementia , thank you! But in drawing attention to important issues involving caregiving, I encourage you all to take care of yourselves. Otherwise, you’ll become stressed and end up with illnesses of your own.
You need to keep in touch with friends and family. A quick coffee with someone did much to restore my good spirits when I was feeling isolated. Yes, personal time is hard to come by, but social breaks are so important.
Join a support group offered by your local Alzheimer Society. They are amazing for providing a space where other care partners join me to talk about the ways we all cope with our spouses’ dementia. Sometimes, to share is to heal.
Finally, take care of your health. Eat well and exercise as much as you. Get the person you care for involved as well. I have worked hard to keep our days filled with activities that will keep us fit and outdoors as much as possible, and we are both much better off because of it.
To close, I would like to call on anyone who has a friend or family member providing care to do something for them. Offer to help with some household chores, to look after their family member for a few hours or just call to offer a kind ear. Often it’s the smallest gesture that can make all the difference.
Want to learn more about the Alzheimer Society of Ontario’s World Alzheimer Month Campaign? Visit our website for further details and what you can do to help people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.