On Sunday, June 11, My church home, The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York hosted its 2nd Annual Brain & Alzheimer’s Awareness Sunday. As an advocate for Alzheimer’s Awareness, I’m grateful for a church that helps raise awareness to a disease that is so rarely talked about.
Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. When I was a caregiver for my mom, information wasn’t easily accessible. Through dedicated research, and a commitment to find the best support for my mother, I was a ale to find the resources necessary to care for her at the best of my ability. However, it was a process, and I am determined to help shed light on how caregivers can effectively care for their loved ones.
June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness month. This month is particularly special to me because my mother was a victim of Alzheimer’s. With respect to all other illnesses, Alzheimer’s is one of the most traumatic and life-altering illnesses out there. I often hear people say, memories last a lifetime, I will never forget you, I may forgive but I’ll never forget. While these cliches sound cute and profound, I dare to say no… not all memories last forever, and yes, one day you may forget.
Alzheimer’s Disease robs people of the very thing we treasure most – our memories. Imagine forgetting every single achievement, degree earned, skills, children and other loved ones. This is a reality for millions. Latest statistics show that 5.4 Million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. Family caregivers spend more than $5,000 a year. As a former caregiver, I can attest that annual caregiving costs far exceed $5,000 a year.
Although Alzheimer’s drastically alters the lives of those we love, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease can be the most rewarding experience. To love someone with all of your heart is the most beautiful gift that God has blessed us with. Caring for your loved one allows you the opportunity to get to know them all over again. If your loved one is suffering with Alzheimer’s, it is important to understand that the person is not changing, the disease is progressing, which impacts their state of mind. Be patient and love them unconditionally. Below are a few things caregivers can do to help their loved ones:
- Sit with them.
- Have regular conversations with your loved one.
- Listen and learn from them. The needs of someone living with Alzheimer’s are quite different than what they were prior to the disease.
- Show them pictures of family and loved ones.
- Watch TV with them and explain what’s happening on television.
- Laugh and smile.
- Hold their hands and share affection.
People with Alzheimer’s often feed off the energy you project. Although it may be difficult, appear calm, and in control.
The entire Alzheimer’s journey cannot be summarized in one blog post, or several posts. Each experience is unique, and the truth is, we are all Fighting to Remember. I invite you to post your experience with Alzheimer’s in the comment section.
How will you bring awareness to Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month?