In my last column, Blessed are the Caregivers, a reader asked for tips to help her prepare in advance for the hard job of caregiving. Her question was answered by a seasoned group of caregivers, from a survey I conducted.
To reiterate, the first two questions addressed the most negative and most positive parts of caregiving. Although the negatives were many, the positives were all about love, joy and purpose.
Today I will address questions 3 and 4 of the Caregiver Survey.
Question 3: What brief advice would you give a new caregiver?
• Take one day at a time.
• Work with your loved one, not against them.
• Don’t take agitation behaviors personally; it is the illness, not your loved one.
• Learn all you can about your loved one’s illness.
• Your person is not the same; love who they have become.
• Don’t be afraid to ask others for help.
• Don’t try to reason with someone who can no longer reason.
• Ask God to give you rest and peace every day.
• The most common answer:
• Join a support group.
Question 4: Do you think caregivers are reluctant to join a support group? Why?
• Yes, there’s not enough time for self-care.
• Yes, people think they have everything under control and don’t need help or advice.
• Yes, people are too private to let others know their needs.
• Yes, people don’t realize the benefits of a support group.
Clearly, many people are reluctant to join a support group, yet joining a group was deemed the greatest advice one caregiver could give to another.
My challenge to every reader: If you currently have no need for learning about dementia, I challenge you to be on the cutting edge and join an educational-based support group.
More than 28 million baby boomers will develop Alzheimer’s during the course of their lifetime. So factually, everyone will have friends or family members who will greatly benefit from the person who has an advance awareness and education about dementia and caregiving. Caregiver support groups generate growth that is meaningful, spiritual and relational.
If you believe you have caregiving under control and don’t need a group, reach out to others. You may never know how much your insight and success may impact and help another caregiver’s journey.
For information about joining my Zoom Caregiver Support Group, contact me at the website below.
Visit www.moment-making.com to learn more about caregiving and to submit your questions, challenges and successes. Karen Cochran Beaulieu, a resident of Sumter County, is the author of the book, “Moments that Matter, a roadmap for caregivers and their loved ones with memory loss.”