Asking for help is never easy for most people. But for the increasing number of North Okanagan residents caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, it’s essential.
“You really can’t support your family member by yourself,’ says Carly Gronlund, regional education and support coordinator for the non-profit Alzheimer’s Society of B.C. for Vernon and the North and Central Okanagan.
The society makes it easier for caregivers who need help by running free support and information groups. Participants meet monthly to share practical tips and strategies for living with demential.
“They create support and friendship with others whose lives are affected by dementia,” says Gronlund.
Participants receive much-needed emotional support.
“It’s a safe environment where you can learn, laugh and help each other through mutual understanding.”
The groups serve people who want current information that will help improve quality of life for themselves and their family member.
In addition to joining support and information groups, Gronlund says caregivers can think about some of these strategies to take care of themselves, too:
Staying fit — Activity is key for physical and mental health. Walking or any other exercise helps. So does healthy eating.
Making time for yourself — Take some time regularly for activities that you enjoy. You’ll likely have to arrange for someone else to be with your family member, so plan ahead.
Creating a sanctuary — Since the demands of caregiving sometimes make it difficult to leave your home, designate a room in the house as your quiet space. Spend a few minutes there each day, away from the demands of your life.
Accepting help — This can be as difficult as asking for help. But it’s important. Whenever family and friends offer you assistance, take them up on it.
Nearly 747,000 Canadians — including many in the North Okanagan — are affected by dementia, and that number is forecast to double within the next 25 years.
For more information on local support groups, contact Gronlund at 250-860-0305 or toll-free at 1-800-634-3399 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Alzheimer’s and other resources, see www.alzheimerbc.org