Whether you are introvert, extrovert, caregiver or care recipient one variable that proves powerful in health research is social support. As the national and international discussion swirls around the dangers of the “lone wolf” the value of spending time with select others is reiterated. In Alzheimer’s research this has been particularly emphasized.
Alzheimer’s caregivers who have social support report higher confidence in their caregiving and higher life satisfaction. Yet having been a family caregiver, I have experienced the drop-off of friends and family when I needed them the most. How do I gain or maintain social support in the face of Alzheimer’s?
The answer lies in two other powerful variables that have positively impacted Alzheimer’s caregivers. Seeking help and education. The study did not show the connection between these two factors. From personal experience, seeking help from family in denial was useless and demeaning.
Seeking help from those educated in Alzheimer’s and dementia resulted in a far better outcome.
This study has the advantage of being qualitative and personal. It will never make the academic standards. But the outcomes were profound. My sample was two parents, both diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The first was diagnosed in the 90’s with each of us clueless on how to do more than keep him safe and dry. We did not seek help, mom had a DIY ethic, and a lot of denial. It did not end well.
The second parent, diagnosed in 2008 with family in minimal denial, and higher awareness of Alzheimer’s resources. We sought help, used our education, and had social support. Through our support group and our dementia specialists we navigated our parent’s final years with far greater finesse and peace. No DIY, but a chosen pack of educated social support. In the words of Robert Frost, it has made all the difference.
Let Dr. Cate, Dementia Coach be a part of your “we”. Offering family direction, referral as well as professional training and consult. For more info, catemccarty.com.