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What Would Have Helped Me

I interviewed my sister-in-law, Norma, about the heartbreak and struggle of caring for Mother in her battle with dementia.

Photo of Charlene Margot
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As the primary caretaker for her failing mother, Norma compiled a list of things that would have helped her, especially in her mom's final year of life: 

1. Education, free counseling, phone chain, group support, engaging community churches and service organizations to make caregiving their assistance project.

2. Free “senior sitting,” run errands, assist with doctor’s appointments, fundraising to help with financial aid documents, etc. 

3. Public service TV time (free) that offers education for caregivers of family members with dementia. 

4. Caregiver "Care Packages," with info about counseling, community support organizations, financial aid, etc. 

5. Mental health professionals offering pro bono counseling to caregivers. 

6. Workshops/education to teach caregivers about government subsidy programs and financial assistance. 

7. Pro bono legal advice for caregivers, as needed. 

8. Make education for caregivers a priority! This topic is now a way of life in America, the way we do birth control, HIV, nutrition, etc.

9. Financial aid programs and volunteers to help caregivers apply for aid, government subsidies, assistance. 

10. Dentists, podiatrists, grocery stores, clothing outlets, Target, etc. offer discounts to card-carrying caregivers to help financially. 

11. Retired nurses and medical professionals to volunteer a few hours/month to check on caregivers’ general health.

Note: Caregivers are so exhausted they can miss small health problems that can become big health problems later on.

12. A ride assist program so caregiver does not have to drive and calm an elder at the same time (doctor appts, personal care, etc). 

13. Volunteer counseling by therapists, social workers, other licensed care givers. 

14. Shoulders to cry on…


What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

In order to care for loved ones suffering from dementia, caregivers themselves need support: educational, emotional, financial, personal, medical, and professional. More community support is needed to help caregivers deal with an aging parent, particularly when resources are limited and/or the family system is small.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am the CEO/President of CSM Consulting (Educational and Design Consulting) and founder of The Parent Education Series, now the largest program of its kind in Silicon Valley.

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Photo of Wendy Carmical

Well done, such informative feedback.

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