Monday, June 13, 2016
AlzAuthors: Blogger Kathleen Brown's Alzheimer's: Hope and Help for Caregivers
by Kathleen Brown
My name is Kathleen Brown. I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, writer, and Texan through and through. What I write about is caring at home for someone with Alzheimer’s. Trust me: I have experience.
My father hid the first signs of Mom’s Alzheimer’s for a couple of years, maybe more. Even after their family doctor made the diagnosis, Dad refused to accept it. In spite of his failing eyesight, he made it plain he would not allow any “outsiders” to come into their home to help him care for her. He vowed never to put Mom in a care facility.
So I became Mom’s caregiver.
In the beginning, I was sure there must be some kind of how-to manual, something to tell me, “You can do this. I did it. Here’s how.” But I found most caregiving information was written by and/or for professionals, and didn’t address the special needs of those who cared for family members in their homes. I felt isolated and alone, certain one day Mom’s needs would finally be too great and I’d be powerless against Alzheimer’s.
Challenges and questions—my days were filled with them. But gradually I realized I was also seeing answers, ways of doing the things that had to be done. That day I dreaded never came. Challenge after challenge, I found solutions.
I write today to share those solutions. I call them miracles—ways of solving problems I never could have come up with alone. I also write about the positive mindset that can allow other caregivers to find their own answers, unique to their situation and the person they care for. In brief, that mindset is this: If we feel a situation is impossible to deal with, we won’t bother looking for a solution. But if we believe an answer exists, if we expect to find one, we’ll keep our eyes and mind open and working. We’ll find what we need.
After Mom died, I waited a long time to begin my blog and the book on which the blog is based. Like most caregivers, I was slow to process the long journey through Alzheimer’s. But now the writing gives me peace. It reinforces my conviction that, with the Lord’s help, Dad and I did a good job. We kept Mom present in her own life and with us, really with us, for as long as we possibly could.
Those who comment on my blogposts often say they appreciate my willingness to write about all of Alzheimer’s, the parts most people know about and the parts that even some caregivers don’t want to discuss. Readers are glad to see practical “how-to” information in the posts, about daily realities like incontinence, hygiene,crisis behavior. And they appreciate hearing about caregiving from the perspective of someone like themselves, someone who took on the job as an untrained family member or friend.
Have I helped caregivers? Yes, I believe I have, by giving them the help I searched for and telling them what I so desperately wanted to hear: “You can do this. I did it. Here’s how.”
About the Author
Kathleen Brown is a writer and speaker who lives and works in her home state of Texas. Her experience with Alzheimer’s began when she was suddenly thrust into the role of caregiver for her mom. Desperate for help and encouragement, she found virtually no information about at-home caregiving. So she stepped onto the Alzheimer’s road with no map or guidebook. Now, by means of her blog, Alzheimer's: Hope and Help for Caregivers, and her book, A Time for Miracles – Finding Your Way Through the Wilderness of Alzheimer’s, she shares her caregiving experience with others who, though unprepared and inexperienced, care at home for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.