Today I took my mom to brain fitness class. Which was really secret code for caregiver support group. I wasn’t really aware that the support group was the main focus until I received three caregiver questionnaires in the mail. Then I felt a little like a lab rat. But if this group allows my mother some social time I’m willing to do it.
Let me back up a bit. My name is Candice and I have a wonderful husband, four really neat and beautiful children and I also care for my mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease three years ago. She has lived with us for just over a year full time. So in essence I’m caring for seven people like Kit. We’ve also seen a lot of changes in our home and foresee more to come– so it made sense for me to climb on board and help with this blog “Changes For Seven”.
Back to brain fitness class/caregiver support group. My mom had a blast. There were four really cute, young geriatric residents running the class. My mom is all about the eye candy, even at 81. The support group was not as much fun. Husbands who are caregivers for their wives diagnosed in their 50’s. Wives with medical problems of their own caring for their husbands daily with little support. There were tears and words of encouragement for all the participants. I was quiet. Probably because I’m never allowed to just sit there and be quiet. It seems like I always need to be talking to someone about something. And I think I was also quiet because I’m of the philosophy that misery loves company. I mean Alzheimer’s is a sad and terrible disease but dwelling on it, I don’t believe, is beneficial or productive. “There’s work to be done here so let’s get to it”. I do like sharing information though and did get a lot out of hearing about care services for memory impairment. A lot of it I already knew about because I have tried many facilities with mom. Finding care options for loved ones with Alzheimer’s is difficult. I liken it to finding the right school for your child. Each of these people are individuals with different interests and idiosyncrasies. Mom and I have tried many adult day centers each one is different. Another difficulty is that the level of care changes as the disease progresses. Really there is a huge learning curve.
When mom was first diagnosed we had to determine how she would fly from her home in Texas to my home wherever that may be (I’ll save that story for another day). We, my sister and I, became so efficient with the airlines we knew to designate my mom as needing wheelchair assistance from the curb (you must check cannot ascend stairs or the airline will not provide assistance off the flight), we would call the airline and let them know of her diagnosis, we would write a letter for the attendants on the flight so that they were aware of the situation and we sent my mother with step by step instructions of where she was and what she was doing. We also included a printed picture of who would be meeting her upon arrival. It was a huge undertaking. We also had to get clearance to escort her to the gate. Many airlines will not allow gate passes for caregivers unless they purchased the ticket. We did this for about 2 years until we felt mom was not able to fly without a companion. Change is constant with Alzheimer’s.
Another reason why I am excited to be a contributing writer to “Changes For Seven” is that I hope if any of you are going through similar experiences Kit and I can help you by sharing what we’ve learned. We learn a lot every day. I’m not exaggerating. On any given day we may cover topics from Medicare/Medicaid and Veterans’ Benefits to filling out your FASFA form. Really! So check in often and ask questions.