Tuesday, November 13, 2012

AD Strikes Next Door!

By Sharon A. O'Brien, SC; RN, PG; BSW, RSW; CG 
Executive Vice-President of Policy & Education 
at Senior Watch 

Alzheimer Disease affects an estimated 200,000 Canadians.  Perhaps a neighbour is one of its victims.

All too often families struggle to cope on their own.  They juggle work schedules, place their own mental and physical health at risk, or become isolated.  What can you do to help?

First, you can become aware of the challenges of caring for a person with Alzheimer Disease.  Information is available from a local Alzheimer office.  Talk to the caregiver about his or her situation and together identify the specific ways you could offer support.

The next step requires courage and commitment.  Let your neighbour's family know you are serious about your offer of support.  A phone call or a visit to encourage the caregiver will mean more than you can ever imagine.  Offer to stay with the family member while the caregiver runs errands, keep appointments or have lunch with a friend.

If you are making cookies, biscuits or a meal, prepare a little extra and offer it to the caregiver.  You could offer to look after a car maintenance appointment, to pick up items needed or even to plan a special time for the caregiver away from the home.  A little creativity can go a long way!

Until you have been “the caregiver” you cannot imagine how much even the smallest gesture of support can mean.

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