“Staying Afloat in a Sea of Forgetfulness – common sense caregiving”
by Gary Joseph LeBlanc
Or, a Question and Answer dialog where you need only search the ‘contents page’ to find the answer for your loved one’s weird behavior for the day.
As a caregiver for my own Mom with Alzheimer’s for several years, I’ve referred to books from both categories.
A chapter or two to learn how to take her car away. A quick scan through the contents page to find how to handle a crying spell at bed-time, or why she’s suddenly become stubborn as a mule.
As I read “Staying Afloat in a Sea of Forgetfulness” I realized it was different, not only because Gary has “been there, done that” but he had a plan that worked. Gary Leblanc offers sound guidance and solid support for other caregivers, like himself, who have parented a parent with Alzheimer’s.
I found myself nodding and agreeing and enjoying the “telling,” as much as the information imparted. Gary has a knack for “telling it like it is!” He recognizes the complexity and difficulty of being a caregiver as well as the humility and love required to follow through over the long haul, and he’s not shamed by it.
When caring for someone who is suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, be prepared to face hardships unlike anything you have encountered before. Unfortunately, not everyone who attempts caregiving will be successful.
Yet, there’s no shame in admitting defeat or the need for help. This ordeal is unequal to any other and if you find that you’re suddenly unable to carry out this crusade, please don’t go through the rest of your life inflamed with guilt. This is definitely not what your loved one would have wished upon you.
Gary breaks down the characteristics needed to be a caregiver into five categories, and projects that you’ll survive if you embrace these qualities. I tend to agree. I don’t think I realized them as necessary when I began caring for my Mom, but know now that they sustained me through her long battle of Alzheimer’s and my own battle with care-giving and it’s after affects.
Don’t worry. These aren’t qualities made for saints only but rather through Gary’s guidance and advice you’ll learn they are qualities that you have within yourself whether you know it or not.
Besides the characteristics that make life easier Gary also has a plan, a routine for caregiving. His plan was formed from necessity and refined through practice. In few words Gary announces his plan with–“Keep it Simple.”
At the very top of the list is routine–a steady, run-of-the-mill lifestyle. In fact, routine is probably whole-some for everybody. It might be boring at times, but if you lack short-term meory, it will be your greatest friend. A habitual life will ease most anxiety and frustration. For instance, I tried to serve Dad’s breakfast and dinner at the same time every day; I even used a particular plae for his pills every morning and evening. When I did not, we had a problem. “These aren’t the pills I took yesteray.” Every day I arranged his silverware in a consistent pattern. Pasta or other food that didn’t require a knife still had one placed next ot it.
The same rules applied to clothing. There was no reason for too many choices. Three or four outfits kept thing uncomplicated.
A casual trip to the doctor left Dad confused for days. (Left him with a million questions, out of sync the next day, waking hours even affected.) It might sound minor but any breaks in the routine could bring mayhem and snowball.
I learned this was true for my Mom as well. A simple routine was the best routine and produced the calmest home and easiest life for Mom and me.
Gary has written a compelling book about Alzheimer’s and Caregiving, exploring every facet of the caregivers struggle to love despite the horrible stresses that come with the job and then forgive themselves for the unwarranted guilt they feel when their labor is finished and they feel totally inadequate.
Gary relates to the reader, as only another Caregiver can, all that occurs through the process of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s from the diagnosis through all the stages of often bizarre behavior and finally the very devastating loss of their passing.
When Gary’s father was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he read and researched everything he could get his hands on about the disease. Right off the bat he could tell whether it had been written by a physician, pharmaceutical company or even a nursing home.
Gary knew when Caregivers are looking for help, the last thing they need is a medical text so difficult to read that they’ve forgotten what they read by the time they put the book down.
Gary’s goal was to write a book that was as “caregiver friendly” as possible. Sharing his triumphs and hardships from a three-thousand + day campaign in dealing with the disease of Alzheimer’s and the world of memory-impairment.
I think Gary has met this goal!
Gary Joseph LeBlanc is a columnist, speaker and book dealer from Spring Hill, Florida. He was the primary caregiver of his beloved father stricken with Alzheimer’s disease for nearly the past decade.
His book can be purchased at: Staying Afloat in a Sea of Forgetfulness
LeBlanc’s weekly column appears in the Herando Today, a Tampa Truibune Publication and other health publications. His writings offer insight and hope through his own journey of caregiving , dealing with the memory-impaired, given in a caregiver friendly manner.
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