Perhaps, many years ago, during an easier time, you and your spouse or your loved ones agreed that a nursing home or care center would never be an option. Promises were made that at that time seemed absolutely doable. But that was a long time ago, and life has changed in difficult, unexpected ways. What do you do when you can no longer manage what you once so determinedly promised?
In South Carolina, 318,000 unpaid family members and friends are currently caring for 95,000 loved ones who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Due to our aging population, this number is 9,000 more than the number of caregivers in 2017.
While the number of caregivers is impressive, the reality is that many of them will not outlive the husband, wife, mother or father for whom they are caring. In fact, 70% of caregivers over age 70 will die before their loved one. Additionally, ever-increasing physical and medical needs will continue to demand more and more effort until, in many cases, the caregiver has nothing left to give.
Facilities such as Mount Pleasant Gardens Alzheimer’s Special Care Center are uniquely designed to meet the needs of dementia patients in a safe, home-like environment. However, this particular facility also reaches out to the weary, discouraged and often guilt-ridden caregivers who have made the difficult choice to place their loved ones. With the encouragement of Administrator Denise Kish, a monthly support group offers both education and emotional support to the family members of residents.
“Typically, the family comes once or twice for information, and then we don’t see them in a group for a while, but many eventually rejoin us for the mutual support and understanding they receive from fellow community members,” said Kish.
In addition to offering resources, educating family members about dementia care and providing moral support, Kish has included a faith-based curriculum to help those looking for peace in the midst of this new, uncharted and often tumultuous journey. After attending a spiritual retreat led by teacher, author and speaker Mary Tetterow, Kish is convinced that learning a few basic principles can be helpful for struggling family members, regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof. Tetterow agreed. Her workbooks, “The Heart of the Caregiver” and “The Peaceful Caregiver,” teach five steps to peace regardless of the swirling storms of life or of living with situations and circumstances that can never improve.
For Kish, providing respectful, loving care for the residents of Mount Pleasant Gardens is only part of her responsibility. Supporting the needs of tired, uncertain family members is equally important.
“We have to help their hearts,” she stressed. “Our monthly support group offers a sense of community support to our resident families as they share this last season of life with their loved ones.”
For more information about Alzheimer’s and dementia care and placement, as well as support for family caregivers, visit www.mountpleasantgardensalz.com or call 843-284-7719.