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February 2013 eNews
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Learning Together

When you learn that you have Alzheimer’s disease you may not believe it, or you may feel overwhelmed, confused or angry. It is difficult enough to accept that you have Alzheimer’s disease, but how will other people react when you tell them? Who do you tell and when should you tell them? These are common questions asked by individuals with dementia, and the Alzheimer’s Association can help you through the process of disclosing a diagnosis.

“Learning Together” is a six-week program for individuals experiencing the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia and their care partners. The program provides information, emotional support, and socialization among peers within a safe and accepting atmosphere. Topics include communication with family, friends and physicians; safety and driving; self-esteem and feelings; and resources for the future. Guest speakers provide information about legal and financial planning as well as the latest medical and research updates.

Buena and Steve Copsey are glad they participated in “Learning Together.” Doctors determined Steve was living with dementia in 2011. “It was a neat program, I thought,” Steve said. “They brought in speakers that were good.” Buena Copsey said her husband benefited from the fellowship they found at “Learning Together.” They could share their experiences with other families who faced the same issues. Like Steve, Buena also found the guest speakers helpful.

“When they had the lawyer come in [to discuss legal matters], both of our adult sons came to that meeting because I wanted them to hear all that,” Buena said.

A new “Learning Together” series is about to begin in Fort Wayne. Please contact the Alzheimer’s Association for details at 800-272-3900.

Voice of a Caregiver

This month we are starting a series called 'Voice of a Caregiver'. In 2007, Molly Godby's mother, Lee, was diagnosed with dementia with probable onset of Alzheimer's. Molly has been caring for her since.

"Love Lessons"

love

/ləv/l

Noun
An intense feeling of deep affection: "their love for their country".

Verb
Feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone): "do you love me?".

Synonyms
noun. affection - fondness - darling – passion verb. like - be fond of - fancy - adore

A quick Google search gives me the above definition of love. Seems simple, right? We can love just about anything or anyone. We “love” chocolate. We “love” our teams. We “love” our families. We are “in love” with our husband/wife/partner. There are many levels to that love, as well. I know that I certainly love my husband exponentially more than I love gummy bears. Now, as a caregiver, I believe I have found another level of love, one that perhaps only another caregiver can understand. Since I have become a caregiver, my love for my mom has reached an entirely different level.

Growing up I always loved my mom. What that meant depended on the very minute. You know what I mean. I had a great relationship with my mom and I ALWAYS loved her- even when she insisted that I clean my room or do my homework before I went to someone's house. As we both grew older, the nature of our love changed. She became even more of a friend to me. She lived nearby, and we saw each other quite often. We would go shopping, she would help watch the kids, and she would listen when I needed her to listen. She was my beloved mother. She was my gentle, kind, loving, empathetic friend.

As the years passed and she developed dementia, and then Alzheimer's, our relationship deepened even more. She had to admit her defeats and ask for help. I became her assistant of sorts. I had to drive her around, do her bills, help with shopping. Yet with every new duty I took on, I also had to understand that my mom was losing one more aspect of her independence. This was heart wrenching on both sides. I remember the day that she told me that she was going to need help with her bills. I can still feel the sadness and sense of defeat that she felt. How brave she was to openly admit that she needed me more than she wanted to admit. It was just one more link in the chain, the chain that she was dragging around, that chain called Alzheimer's.

The chain's weight grew and continues to grow heavier, sometimes slowly and sometimes very quickly. As that chain grows heavier, so do my caretaker burdens. By burdens I really mean responsibilities. I will never, and I mean never, define my mother as a burden. Trust me, there have been times when I wanted to throw my hands up and say, “Forget it! This is too much for me to bear!” But I couldn't. My heart would never let me. Truthfully, I rarely think of labeling myself as a caretaker, even though that is what I have become. She is my mom and I am her daughter, no matter the role reversal.

When people hear my story about my mother - how I take care of her, the deep pain and sadness that I have to endure every single day, they almost always say, “I can't imagine that. I am not sure that I could do what you are doing for your mom.” My immediate thought in my head is, “Are you serious? How could you not?”, because in my heart it was never a consideration whether I would help my mom. It just was. I knew no other way. My heart, my mind, my soul knew no other way. For I love my mom no matter what. I loved her when she sang to me as a child. I loved her when she made me clean my room. I loved her when we made gingerbread cookies at Christmas. I loved her when she needed me to drive her to the store. I loved her as things didn't make sense to her and she would cry to me. And I love her now, even when she doesn't know who I am.

My love for my mom is truly unconditional. All the hurt, the pain, the continual grieving that I endure on a daily basis can never take the place of my love for her. Even in these past years when it has been me, the daughter, helping her, the mother, she continually teaches me lessons - lessons of patience, kindness, and understanding. And she has most certainly taught me a huge lesson in love.

 

Molly Godby lives with her family of four in Zionsville, Indiana. In 2007, her mother, Lee, was diagnosed with dementia with probable onset of Alzheimer's. Molly has been caring for her since. Molly is a stay-at-home mother of two. She enjoys writing, doing CrossFit and spending time with her family and friends. She also has a personal blog that you can read at www.abundantlyawesome.blogspot.com.

Become An ALZ Star

On May 4, 2013, the ALZ Stars of Greater Indiana will be participating in the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis. If you have never been a part of this iconic Indianapolis event, we invite you to join us!

Whether you are a seasoned runner or looking for a new challenge in 2013, we have the best incentive to cross the finish line. When you join ALZ Stars, you're racing and raising money for the millions of Americans who are affected by Alzheimer's disease.

As an ALZ Star, you will receive a free entry into the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon or 5K race, an ALZ Stars race day jersey, access to training programs and fundraising tools. You will also be invited to join us for a special pasta dinner with your fellow ALZ Stars. All we ask is that you raise a minimum of $500 towards the care, support and research provided by the Alzheimer’s Association.

If you don’t have time to train, but still want to be involved, you can still be a part of the team. We are looking for “cheerleaders” for race day. If you are interested in encouraging and supporting our team, while raising awareness for our cause, we would love to have you along to race route decked out in ALZ Stars gear.

Join us and make a difference! For more information, contact Amber Michel at 800.272.3900 or amichel@alz.org.

Register by clicking here


 

Alzheimer's Association

Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.