Recently, Dr. Judith L. London published a book of 54 stories detailing the challenging and sometimes heroic lives of caregivers of Alzheimer's sufferers. And it's no wonder Dr. London found it compelling to collect a these stories in one place: in a study conducted by Stanford University and the Alzheimer's Association, more than 15 million people provide unpaid care for family members, or even friends, who suffer from the disease.
Though the book, featured in Jane Brody's Personal Health column in the New York Times, focuses on the challenge of caring for Alzheimer's patients, the themes resonate with anyone caring for an ill or incapacitated family member. While no one can devote the same level of love and attention as those in the close, personal circle of family and companions, stress on those very caregivers can outweigh the merits of their heroic efforts.
Many stories highlight the power of outside stimuli - a scent, a location, even an experience like playing golf - can bring a memory to the fore, and a joyous moment shared. A caregiver's appreciation for these infrequent glimpses into the person who once was can be energizing and enojoyable. As the disease progresses, however, the stress and strain, particularly on older companions and spouses, takes its toll.
Families eventually recognize the necessity of living separately from an ailing spouse, however, many are trying to manage at home, hiring eldercare specialists and senior care aids to offer a break, and and helping hand with the more cumbersome tasks. This requires planning and familiarity with a series of specific processes that insure the right kind of assistance. Knowledge of background screening, hiring and interviewing techniques, methods for writing a thorough work agreement and payroll matters make the journey difficult and sometimes overwhelming. This means many spouses and families will take on the responsibility, without getting help, rather than navigate complex, and sometime risky, landscape of eldercare hiring.
When a family confronts its own limitations in caring for a senior at home, securing the help of a Geriatric Care Manager may help. These specialists are trained to evaluate different personal and circumstantial situations, and can direct families to the right kind of help - in direct care, or with the logistics of hiring help at home.
A leader of caregiver support groups, speaker for the Alzheimer’s Association, and presenter at numerous conferences, Dr. London is WebMd expert for its Alzheimer’s Community. The book is reviewed and available on Amazon.com.
For more information regarding hiring in-home care for someone suffering from Alzheimer's or otherwise requires in-home care, download this guide to conducting successful background screening for senior care assistance.