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Caregiver to Care Receiver

From Care Giver to Care Receiver: Keeping Your Own Cup Full

July 11, 2023

Exhausted but fulfilled. Lonely yet never alone. Heartbroken yet unfailingly steadfast. Uncertain, but putting one foot in front of the other anyway, day after day. Such is the overwhelming reality for 11 million Americans providing unpaid care to loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia. And while many caregivers wouldn’t have it any other way, it is no doubt a job that requires giving immeasurably of oneself.

Indeed, the emotional toll of caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is significant; nearly 60% of caregivers report their stress levels to be high or very high. You may be experiencing caregiver burnout if you find yourself:

  • Losing interest in things that once brought you happiness
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Feeling anxious and/or irritable more often
  • Neglecting your own health
  • Having difficulty sleeping

If you are feeling swallowed up by the demands of caregiving for someone with dementia, know this: you are not alone, and it’s okay to ask for help. You simply can’t pour from an empty cup.

Crystal Jones, PCHA, Darlington Memory Care Manager at The Hickman, describes how family members kept coming to her with similar questions and concerns about their loved ones with dementia. “I found a common thread of feeling hopeless, questioning the progression of their loved one’s experience […] feeling challenged, having roles reversed. For most, it is not what they envisioned, nor do they recognize the person before them.” Caregivers are the unsung heroes when it comes to Alzheimer’s and dementia: tirelessly devoting themselves to their loved ones and navigating an uncharted road full of unknowns, but often at the expense of their own health and well-being. Looking to change this, Jones, along with Darlington Community Life Manager Stacey Farrell, COTA/L host a Caregiver Support Group, sponsored by the Delaware Valley chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, at The Hickman.

The group consists of at-home caregivers in the community as well as family members of individuals with dementia who are living in The Hickman’s memory care neighborhood, Darlington. Group attendees can expect to find a welcoming space of support where they will feel comfortable sharing personal experiences, offering advice, learning from one another, and sharing both laughter and tears. “There is respect, empathy, and most of all understanding shared in this group,” says Jones, “What each caregiver brings to the group is of great value.” Jones and Farrell want caregivers and family members to come away from their group feeling heard, understood, and empowered.

You can find an Alzheimer’s and dementia support group near you by visiting https://www.alz.org/delval/helping_you. There you’ll also find many other resources, both in-person and virtual, such as:

  • a 24/7 helpline (800-272-3900)
  • a free online community where individuals living with dementia and their caregivers can connect with one another, ask questions, and receive support
  • a community resource locator
  • an individualized tool, ALZNavigator, to help guide you in the next steps after receiving an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis