Helping the Helper

If you know someone who has a loved one living with dementia and you’d like to do something for them but don’t know what, I’d like to share some of the things that people did that I appreciated.

My late mother suffered from Alzheimer’s and I was one of her primary caregivers for many years.

It was a long, painful, and often lonely journey, seeing this cruel disease slowly take away my mom.

As any caregiver knows, it can be an emotional roller-coaster that leaves you anxious and fearful, at times, and mentally and physically exhausted. When family and friends reach out in small ways it can be a real comfort.

Although I never really told my sister-in-law just how much I appreciated the thoughtful cards she sent, that regular ‘lift’ was so helpful. She would send me a beautiful card on a regular basis with simply a ‘We are thinking of you’, ‘Your mom is lucky to have you’ or ‘Happy you can have some quality time with your mom as I am sure she appreciates all you do’.

I know my sister-in-law put effort into her support by choosing a pretty card, writing an encouraging word and going to the post office to mail it. Email and text messages are the way many of us communicate in our busy lives. But receiving a card in the mail can be more special.

When one of my best friends would visit from out of town, she gladly accompanied me to visit my mom. In fact, she practically insisted that we go. She would beautifully interact with my mother as she had for the past 30 years and brought such joy to her simply by loving her. There is no better way to help the helper than by showing love and attention to their afflicted loved one.

If you want to help someone, try to put yourself in his or her place. Send a card, offer to run an errand, or lend an ear.

If you know their loved one, offer to visit, if that would be helpful. You will be surprised at how rewarding this may feel.

With the prevalence of Alzheimer’s, and other forms of dementia, the odds are you may find yourself on the receiving end of such thoughtfulness. Showing a little kindness can go a long way.

Contributed by Kristine G, Daughter & President Monarch Collection Inc