Candy has been a caregiver since her husband was diagnosed in 2008. She has had quite a difficult journey with Alzheimer’s as many people in her life have been diagnosed. Her grandma had it, her step grandparents and both her mother and father had the disease. When her husband was first diagnosed, she stepped into the caregiver role. Candy first noticed that he needed help with little things and then it progressively got worse. This is when she did research and found out about the Alzheimer’s Association. She discovered all the great resources they offered that really helped prepare her for what she was about to endure with her husband.
Caregivers have a very difficult job that only they can understand. There is really no one they can go to, to just vent. It is especially hard adjusting to the new lifestyle when you witness your spouse start to forget all the things they once loved. Candy’s husband loved to cook. As his condition worsened, he began to forget the little things like his recipes and how to use the stove. He needed her help. Her husband has always been a very proud man, so at first it was difficult for him to accept that he needed help. It was painful seeing her husband deteriorate every day. This is when she turned to the Alzheimer’s Association for support.
The Alzheimer’s Association has helped her so much throughout her journey being a caregiver. The support groups and 24/7 helpline are lifesavers for caregivers. Candy became a support group facilitator in hopes of helping others that are going through the same thing as her. It gives her joy to know she can help someone. Being that she lives out in the middle of nowhere, some resources are limited. She regularly attends a weekly Wednesday Coffee & Conversation group to stay in touch with local friends for support. Several of her support group members also attend these meetings and they stay in touch more often than just their monthly scheduled meetings. Caregiving is a very difficult role to take on, especially if it is for a loved one. Candy emphasized the importance of just being there for everyone she can whether it be with this small group or just a quick phone call to know that someone is always there for you. They have even started Zoom meetings for caregiver support in the midst of COVID.
For Candy, being a facilitator has helped her to relieve a lot of stress. It is nice having someone to talk to who understands what you are going through. She wants others to understand that that you are not alone, and the weight is not all on you. You are going to screw up and it is okay. Sometimes it is very stressful being a caregiver and hard to watch someone you love become someone totally foreign to you. It is hard to watch them slip away every day. Do not be afraid to go to support groups, it is reassuring to be understood by people going through the same thing. There is help and there is hope!
To learn more about becoming a support group facilitator with the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter, click here.