FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | May 11, 2006
Time, Pampering Make Great Mother's Day, Father's Day Gifts for Alzheimer's Caregivers
NEW YORK , NY —While some parents hope for material gifts on Mother's Day and Father's Day, those who care for individuals with Alzheimer's disease or related illnesses could use something far more precious: some time and pampering.
“Often a mere material gift does not adequately express our real feelings. Better yet are true gifts from the heart, gifts that show our true appreciation for a caregiver's compassionate care,” " said LeAnn Thieman, co-author of “Chicken Soup for the Caregiver's Soul,” in an article in the spring issue of care AD vantage,a quarterly magazine published by the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA).
Also in the current issue of care AD vantage, Kene Holliday, an actor famous for his roles on "Matlock" and "Carter Country," shares his personal journey in caring for his mother. Other articles explore sexuality and dementia, and poetry therapy. Caregivers can obtain a free subscription to care AD vantage, which is written for caregivers of people with Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, by calling 866-AFA-8484 or visiting www.alzfdn.org .
In the article in care AD vantage, Thieman, a licensed practical nurse, suggests “gifting a caregiver with a self-care gift basket –one that will encourage someone to care for himself or herself as lovingly as he or she does for others.”
Her ideas include giving coupons that can be redeemed for staying with a caregiver's loved one for an hour or two to give the caregiver some respite, taking the caregiver to lunch, cleaning the house and preparing a meal. A CD of relaxing music and mediation tapes represent gifts for the spirit, and funny movies can provide therapeutic laughter.
According to Thieman, self-care gifts are especially meaningful for caregivers of people with dementia since these caregivers are especially stressed and isolated. “These basic and thoughtful gifts will nourish caregivers and provide a much-needed dose of inspiration and support," she said.
A recent AFA survey, conducted by Harris Interactive and sponsored by Forest Pharmaceuticals, illustrates the social and emotional ramifications of caregiving for individuals with Alzheimer's disease: 62 percent of respondents noted less time for themselves; 53 percent said they were not able to go out as often as before; 46 percent described themselves as more anxious, stressed or burned out; and 45 percent said they don't see friends as often.
Yet, the survey also found that 64 percent of caregivers learned they are stronger than they thought they were and 46 percent said they have become more compassionate since caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease.
"Caregivers desperately need a break, but they are often reluctant or unwilling to say that they could use assistance. Mother's Day and Father's Day are ideal opportunities to show just how much you appreciate their efforts and dedication,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA's chief executive officer.
Hall encouraged caregivers to take advantage of respite services and support available from AFA member organizations and other agencies across the country. For example, some groups offer multi-day retreats for caregivers or a certain number of hours of free, in-home respite care; and Sunrise Senior Living facilities in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut provide short-term stays at special prices for individuals with memory impairment so caregivers can take care of personal or professional needs. In addition, AFA, in collaboration with Ask Dr. Jamie, provides a weekly telephone support network, called Care Connection. ."Every bit of support that is provided to caregivers helps to refresh their physical health and emotional well-being," said Hall. "It's the greatest gift of love."
The Alzheimer's Foundation of America, headquartered in New York, is a national nonprofit organization that focuses on providing optimal care to individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, and their families. AFA's services include a toll-free hotline, counseling and educational materials. For information, call (toll-free) 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org .