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Help for the Caregiver


Last year, I wrote The Sad Beginning of a New Normal, a story of the day we realized my grandmother had dementia. It was a time of fear, helplessness, and a lot of tears. Thankfully, the story continues, and while there are still days filled with emotion and tears, I have learned how to get beyond the helpless feelings.

Shortly after that ominous day, I attended a training class for Alzheimer’s caregivers. It was amazing to hear the stories of others going through this journey – to compare tips, exchange ideas, and offer support.

The instructor from Home Instead gave us real-life tools to help in the everyday care of our loved ones. Tips on safety, managing frustrating behaviors, and using the past events of a loved one’s life to encourage engagement gave me the confidence I needed as a family caregiver.

A few weeks following this training class, my grandmother was admitted to the hospital. I sat in the bleak hospital room with her and some other family. She began to get irritated, insisting that she was late for work. Someone reminded her that she had retired many years ago, but that only increased her agitation.

I quietly grabbed the hand lotion sitting on the table and began to massage her hands.

“I don’t think you have to be anywhere for a while, payroll went out last week. But we’d better get you prettied up so you’re ready,” I told her. And with that I grabbed her hair brush and began to brush her snow-white hair.

Her agitation melted away along with my own confusion and stress.

I wonder how long we would have sat there arguing with her, increasing everyone’s stress, had I not learned to live in her world, to recall items from her past, to offer comfort in that training class.

No one starts this journey knowing everything they need to know. Many of us start just like I did - with a call in the middle of the night. The best thing we can do is continue to find ways to help our loved ones and ourselves. And there are many ways to do just that.

Find a training class like I did at Perhaps you can’t get away for a training class. Consider taking a free online class on your own time, at your own pace. Register for a free online chat and ask the experts your questions.

Don’t forget that camaraderie is important as well. Find a support group in your area where you can take time for yourself. Like our page on Facebook to hear the stories and encouragement from others as well as to receive information on new resources.

This journey will likely never see a day without emotion. There will still be times of frustration, tears, and anger. No one comes out of this completely unscathed. But together, and with enough help, we can do this.

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. December 2, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Posted by Cathy

    I recently quit my job to care for my mother in my home. She previously was living in an assisted living communtiy. I have NO help and am here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week caring for her. I have sitters that I can hire to come in but mom with not allow them in the house. She will only let me care for her. I am very tired and really need a break. How do I convice mom that I need someone to come stay with her for just a few hours a couple days of the week?


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