Dementia caregiving isn't an easy endeavor. As your loved one's disease progresses, it will not only rob him or her of memories, but also of the ability to do simple things like dress, bathe or use a fork at mealtime.
It's heartbreaking to watch. But, as your loved one is depending on you for care and for reassurance, you know that you'll need maintain a positive outlook, even though you might not always feel positive on the inside.
So, who can you turn to for support when your older loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, dementia, or age-related memory loss? They're depending on you for care, but who will you depend on as you face the burden of providing care?
Let's talk today about some of the memory loss support resources available to you here in the Cincinnati area and discuss what each can do for you.
It helps just to be able to talk and share your feelings.
You know that sometimes, it feels better just to be able to vent in a safe environment. Participating in a dementia or Alzheimer's caregiver support group won't lead to a cure for your relative. It won't magically reduce your to-do list.
But it will allow you to let pent-up frustrations out of your emotional balloon. It will help you to adjust. And it will help you learn effective coping mechanisms that will allow you to overcome any feelings of sadness, guilt, or anger that arise over the course of providing care to your loved one.
In short, it will make you a more effective caregiver.
A support group can help you learn how to deal with caregiving setbacks.
In hearing other caregivers' stories, you may learn how to better understand your loved one's emotional triggers and figure out how to communicate, even as your elder's memory and verbalization abilities diminish.
You'll learn how to stay calm, even when your loved one exhibits a dementia-related behavioral outburst. You'll be able to understand and cope when he or she, as some Alzheimer's patients do when they get tired or frustrated, lashes out at you.
And it will provide you a wider network to draw inspiration from, to glean caregiving tips from and to hear from peers about their experiences with memory care providers in Cincinnati, which will help you and your family to make informed decisions should the need for residential memory care placement ever arise.
You'll hear about respite care opportunities, too, so you'll know who you can turn to for help when you need a break to rest and refresh your soul.
How do you connect with dementia caregiving resources in Cincinnati?
Start by checking with the Council on Aging for Southwestern Ohio. They keep a large database of resources in and around the Cincinnati area — including a list of active support groups — that you can search.
Episcopal Retirement Services' monthly caregiver support group (part of the Caregiver Assistance Network) meets every second Wednesday of the month from 2-3:30 p.m. at our sister retirement care community, Deupree House, here in Hyde Park. It's open to all caregivers in the community.
The Alzheimer's Association of Greater Cincinnati provides area caregivers with a lot of helpful information about local support resources and opportunities.
Nationally, the Alzheimer's Association also hosts an online support community, ALZConnected, featuring forums and community message boards that connect dementia sufferers and dementia caregivers alike. Many of the boards include information about assistance people can receive in their home areas.
Lastly, the United Way of Greater Cincinnati's 211 service line is available 24/7 for crisis support and to connect you with dementia caregiving resources and basic needs support organizations in the city and throughout the region.
Do you have lingering questions about your older loved one's dementia diagnosis?
We're here to help, too. Our Marjorie P. Lee memory care experts have developed an easy-to-understand guidebook to dementia and Alzheimer's that will help you make sense of it all.