I Once Was Lost and Now Am Found:
When you are in the moment you are certain that you are the only one in the world going through this nightmare. A nightmare that you would never wish on anyone. And then you attend a boot camp or an engagement party or an office party and realize that you are not alone. There are many strangers and friends walking the very same path.
In my opinion, the key to get through this nightmare is to talk about it with your new found friends. I do this at a support group that I attend whenever possible. The people in this support group are unbelievable. Some are three steps ahead of me on this journey and some are two steps behind me. All of us are trying to stay on the path. I find this support group to be very giving of their time and their knowledge.
So how do you go about finding a support group? I started with my computer. I googled “Alzheimer’s Support Groups in Birmingham, AL.” Do not be afraid to google Alzheimer’s. My dad has dementia not Alzheimer’s but Alzheimer’s is merely a spoke under the dementia umbrella.
I found several sites that gave me useful information about dementia, as well as several support groups in the Birmingham area. Many of the support groups are located in local churches. I was able to find groups meeting on almost every day of the week . Some meet at night and some meet during the day. I was lucky and was able to find a group at the church I grew up in. I immediately hit it off with this group of people and my search for a support group ended shortly after it began. You might not be so lucky. You might have to try more than one group before you find the right fit for you. Do not become discouraged. There is a group just waiting to welcome you home.
You may also check with your local chapter Alzheimer’s chapter. The Alzheimer’s Chapter of Alabama has a wealth of information that they are just waiting to share. (http://alzca.org/)
I also find it helpful to read books on dementia. I have read parts of the book The 36 Hour Day. This book is a bit depressing so I chose not to read it from cover to cover. I did find some of the sections very helpful very early in my dad’s illness. I am currently reading Where the Light Gets In by Kimberly Williams Paisley. Her book is about her mother’s diagnosis of primary progressive aphasia, a rare form of dementia (another spoke of the dementia umbrella). Her book has reminded me that some people have a more difficult walk than others.
Do not lose sight of the person you love by focusing on the disease. Your loved one is still in there somewhere.
Suggested groups in Birmingham:
Collar Jewish Family Services. Briarwood Presbyterian Church
St. Mary’s episcopal church. Lake view estates in Hoover
Dawson Memorial Baptist Church. First Baptist Church of Trussville
Canterbury Methodist Church. Vestavia Methodist church