November is National Family Caregivers Month (NFCM) as well as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. It is a special month to recognize and honor family caregivers throughout the country. This is an opportunity to raise awareness on caregiving issues, educate communities and offer support for caregivers. Caregivers may be taking care of children, someone with a disability, or the elderly.
“When it comes to dementia, many people only know the term Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s is just the MOST common type of dementia. There are many types of dementia,”
according to Jennifer Kimball the class Guide for Dementia: Conquering the Challenges of Caregiving,
“Alzheimer’s numbers are climbing exponentially and by 2050 we expect it to triple. If you were to go out and ask people who are say 30-50 years old which they would rather be diagnosed with - dementia, cancer, or heart disease - most would choose either over dementia, even though heart disease and cancer have a higher death rate in the US. Most of this decision is out of fear of dementia, fear of losing control, and knowing that there is no real treatment. With the other two there are usually treatment options that may provide a glimmer of hope.”
While no one can say for certain why dementia is on such a rapid rise, some factors may include longer lifespans, more awareness, recognition, and actual diagnosis of the disease, and the aging group of baby boomers. A little known fact is that many people live with Alzheimer’s for as long as 15-16 years if they are healthy otherwise. That also means there are a number of years that caregivers are neglecting self-care which can easily lead to burn out.
While caregiver awareness is growing there is still an issue. According to Jennifer,
“I think that the really helpful information is hard to find. Too often, people are given a dementia diagnosis and sent on their way to cope. They aren’t given any tools to build coping skills. That’s why I am happy to be able to reach out and provide it to people through classes. After learners take the dementia caregiving class the tools are easy to put into place - that lightbulb goes off in their heads and it is nice to see that.”
Classes, support groups, and resources are available through area agencies, community centers, volunteer organizations, and faith groups. Many of these you can find online or come right to you. With online classes information is streamed into your living room, and you never have to leave your loved one or stop providing care. Now you can do it all and still attend class, if you prefer, from the comfort of your own home.
Are you interested in a more social caregiver’s discussion? If so, show your interests in the Social Hour - Dementia Caregivers Unite a casual event to socialize with people in a safe space to vent frustrations, find friends, and learn what works for different people through shared stories.
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November is Caregiver’s Month and many Alzheimer’s Association Walks to End Alzheimer’s will be hosted across the country.
Family caregivers come from all backgrounds, and experience challenges like loneliness, isolation, financial hardship, and lack of preparation. Funding supports...