Caring for Caregivers

Monday morning can be a downer, but for the dozen women and men in our support group, it’s a highlight of our week. That’s when we gather to speak candidly of what is unspeakable in polite society or even among closest friends and family.

We are the spouses or partners of people with dementia, an umbrella term for several degenerative, fatal brain diseases, of which Alzheimer’s is by far the most common. We are their primary caregivers; their lives depend on us.

Living with someone with dementia, who must be watched every minute, eventually becomes the central focus of a caregiver’s life, as independence and freedom are replaced by stress and exhaustion. The members of our group, mostly in their 80s, are worn out by caring for their mates. Yet so lively are our Monday meetings that it sometimes takes two volunteer social workers to keep order: “Wait! Wait! One person at a time!” …

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