Voices of Alzheimer's Caregivers: Part One

Four Alzheimer's caregivers discuss coping with a loved one's disease.

June 25, 2009— -- This is part one of the transcript from a special roundtable discussion featuring Alzheimer's caregivers. In this section, the participants -- Alice, Maureen, Phyllis, and Joe -- talk about why they sought out a support group in their community.

How Has a Support Group Helped You Cope With Being an Alzheimer's Caregiver?

ALICE: After my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease two and a half years previous, I decided after trying to do everything on my own thinking I could take care of every situation, I decided I couldn't and I needed to go for help. So I decided to go to a support group, where the people know this whole situation that I'm going through and they could help me. And I get a lot of input and a lot of feedback and a lot of help with certain situations that come up that I have no clue [how] to really deal with. So, I found it extremely helpful. And I wouldn't miss it; I hate to miss a night because it is so important to me. It's been a big help.

PHYLLIS: Our loved one was diagnosed with Alzheimer's two months ago. I know the value of support groups and I wanted to make sure that I educated myself to speak to other people who are in the same shoes now, so I immediately decided to jump on board and find the local support group knowing that there are others in our community that would be there for me to help out.

JOE: I sought out the support group because I knew so little about the disease. I lived with it and I [took care of] my wife for two years, and I decided that I needed to know more. And it was very valuable to get some information from others and their experiences with it. It's been very helpful.

Get Expert Answers at the ABC News OnCall+ Alzheimer's Center

MAUREEN: I just knew that my mother was not in the right place, and I decided that I would join the support group and start coming. It has also been an invaluable experience. It's just knowing that what's happening is not an anomaly. It's what happens to these people when they suffer this disease. And it's just very comforting to know that you're not alone.

Roundtable Discussion: Finding a Support Group for Alzheimer's Caregivers

PHYLLIS: Sharing the stories, sharing the experiences. You know, to hear that somebody has run into the same experience. You can sit back and think: "Well, yeah, that sounds familiar. My loved one did the same thing." It's nice to know that other people are experiencing some of the same things. It's not just the family sitting back and saying, "Well, that's just the way they are." There's a commonality.

MAUREEN: And it's hard to appreciate what it's really like until you go through it.

Alzheimer's Caregiver Roundtable Topics

  • Part One: Joining an Alzheimer's Support Group
  • Part Two: Early Warning Signs of Alzheimer's
  • Part Three: Challenges of Daily Living -- Bathing, Dressing, Etc.
  • Part Four: When You're No Longer Recognized
  • Part Five: Tips on Calming a Loved One With Alzheimer's
  • Part Six: The Fear of Inheriting Alzheimer's
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