As I look back over the last five or more years and my journey with my mother's Alzheimer Disease, I am still struck by the stress I suffered and the toll that it has taken on my health and well being. But now, as I begin a new chapter in that journey and as I learn about the disease, I realize how much of that stress originated in my ignorance about so many things. And because I faced so much of it alone and in ignorance, I wonder how I might help others going through this experience. Oh, how wonderful it would be to spare one person that suffering!
My husband says that I should write a book about all that I have learned. I have so much still to learn about the disease, and much of what I learned over the last five years is about dealing with the local health professionals and system where my mother lived. A book is a long-term project and mine might be too localized to be of broad assistance to anyone. But I haven't ruled out the option.
I have learned that there are volunteer opportunities with my local Alzheimer Society, and there are also advocacy opportunities: to help raise awareness, to educate decision-makers and influence public policy.
I continue to learn about the disease and the statistics about the affect of this on our society as we baby boomers age are frightening. I'm also learning about the support programs offered by the Canadian and BC Alzheimer Societies. One of these is a message board, and through that I'm learning about the challenges of caring for an Alzheimer patient in your home.
And while I do this learning, I'll continue to ponder how I might help in an effective way.