By Dr. David Davis and Joko Gilbert
As anyone who has walked in our shoes knows, there is a vast hole in the heart of a caregiver who, by a twist of fate, must tend to the needs of a Loved One suffering from Alzheimer’s. A hole that has the power to reshape and redefine who we are, for the rest of our lives. So, if we can approach this incredibly difficult challenge with the awareness that caregiving can be an opportunity for healing and growth, it allows us to step back from the precipice, where frustration, sadness and exhaustion await.
My sweet wife Linda was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s in 2009 at the age of 51 years old. She survived for 7 years until her death last year. We are simply not given the tools and strategies to deal with the burden of caregiving and the toll it takes on every aspect of our lives. Having practiced chiropractic for many years, I had a strong grasp on the principles and practices of healthy living, which was the fuel for my desire to come through this experience as a better version of myself, and to embrace the profound lessons as a caregiver, allowing me to more fully integrate into the world.
The thought that we can bring insight into the community of caregivers to ease our collective burden, as well as provide inspiration and information to elevate the conversation from one of support to one of empowerment was the motivation to create our book, Support the Caregiver, 9 Strategies for turning the stress of ALZHEIMER’S CAREGIVING into Transformational Growth.
Joko Gilbert, a dear friend of mine and Linda’s, was extremely close to the whole experience of taking care of my wife during her illness, and taking care of me, I might add, during the worst of it. It is from our shared experience, that we were determined to give voice to the most valuable lessons gleaned from those eight years, along with the strategies for emotionally prospering at a time when exhaustion and despair taunt us.
Out of our passion to share our insights, we have met with many individuals and groups in the Alzheimer’s community. Each meeting, each conversation is met with enthusiasm and the desire to explore more deeply the strategies that we have assembled. As a result, the Alzheimer’s Association has invited us to speak on a number of occasions, to groups small and large, as well as an invitation to be a speaker at the national Caregivers Conference in Connecticut this on April 19th.
The feedback has been strongly favorable, as we watch a tide of change in the caregiving community towards the very potent idea of empowerment.
Writing this book allows us to articulate and crystalize the most important and valuable lessons caregiving has taught us. It affords us the opportunity to reinvent ourselves in a way that makes our lives richer for having gone through the experience.
Speaking as a caregiver, I can think of nothing else that is as valuable and gratifying than reclaiming our sense self, and the peace that accompanies it, which are the cornerstones to living a healthy, purposeful and joyful life.
About the Authors
I am recently retired from chiropractic practice after 34 years. My passion continues to be educating people on the principles of health and healing, writing, reading and travel, because I am always curious about what's around the next corner or beyond the next hill.
I was born and raised in a tiny village in Austria and traveled the world working as a fashion model. In the 80’s I moved from London to New York City to continue my career. I fell in love and settled down (and gave a lot of guardian angels a much needed break from watching over me), got married and had two delicious suns (not a typo). I’ve also worked in my husband Frank’s chiropractic practice assisting our patients with weight loss, exercise and healthy food and life choices and am a certified Reiki practitioner. Not in a million years could I have imagined that my friend Linda’s diagnoses with Early Onset Alzheimer’s would turn my life towards working with caregivers in the Alzheimer’s community and not in a million years could I be more honored to do so. Caregivers are unsung heroes!
Connect with Dr. David Davis and Joko Gilbert
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