You may recall the recent Care Plan meeting at which I was identified as a stellar candidate for
intervention, er, for help from a support group. I promised then that I’d find one within a couple of weeks. Well, I did. In fact, Lisa and I attended our first such meeting this evening.
It was, thankfully, a very small group so everyone had ample opportunity to talk. Our facilitator was kind, well-prepared and masterful at saying just the right thing at the right time. From her, we learned two important things; one is important to know, and the other is important for me:
- Think of an umbrella. The fabric part of the umbrella is Dementia. That point sticking out from the top is Alzheimer’s Disease which affects somewhere between 50 – 70% of Dementia patients; thus its prominent height in our metaphor. The spokes sticking out from the perimeter are some of the other forms of Dementia. Among them, Parkinson’s Disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) are untreatable. Certain metabolic disorders, Hypothyroidism and Hypoglycemia are among the forms of dementia that are treatable. I never quite understood the relationships between these conditions. Now I have at least a foggy idea.
- Live In The Moment. So much of my problem dealing with Mom is that I’m trying to communicate with the happy middle. Well, her middle may be happy, but it is certainly not constant. Dementia means that her cognition rides a roller coaster; a ride not visible to me and, therefore, one that I cannot gauge and adapt to. So I have to release my sensibilities and accept Mom’s thinking just for that moment. The next moment may be very different, indeed. This will take some practice. It’s not easy to let go of a lifetime of logical thinking.
We’ve all heard so many times how important it is for the caregiver to attend to him- or herself first. All along this trip, I’ve been doing what I can to take care of myself: eating well, exercising. But there’s also an emotional component to caregiving that, frankly, few of us are naturally equipped for. That’s why my Care Plan friends thought it so important to steer me toward a support group. Tonight was the first step. There are probably many to come.
I really want to get something good from this.