If you have a loved one with dementia, my first suggestion would be to find the very best doctors possible. My second piece of advice would be to go to the Alzheimer's Reading Room. It's a free blog that focuses on Alzheimer's disease and the art of Alzheimer's caregiving. Its goal is to educate, sometimes entertain, and always empower Alzheimer's caregivers, their families and the entire Alzheimer's community. It's the nation's largest blog on Alzheimer's and the number one source of news about Alzheimer's disease and caregiving.
This site offers advice on issues that are important to Alzheimer's caregivers. It provides specific insight and solutions to problems they face each day -- issues such as wandering, challenging behaviors, showering, toileting, driving, caregiver loneliness, treatments, medications, hospice and so many other problems that arise when caring for someone with Alzheimer's or other dementias.
The Alzheimer's Reading Room has more than 3,700 articles in its database -- many written by every day caregivers. Others are provided by some of the world's top scientists, clinicians, doctors, nurses and other professionals in the field who share their advice, knowledge and expertise.
The site was established by Bob DeMarco, a former Wall Street professional from Delray Beach, Florida, who was the full-time caregiver to his mother, Dotty, for eight years. He started the site to keep track of the thousands of articles and numerous books he was reading about Alzheimer's disease to help him understand how to care for his mother. DeMarco himself also contributes a prodigious number of articles to the site, based on both his personal experience caring for Dotty and his own research.
"Soon after I started the blog," states DeMarco, "I began to receive emails from Alzheimer's caregivers from all over the world. At first an email here and there. Then thousands began pouring in. I soon realized that these caregivers were often thrust into their roles with little or no experience or training. As a result, they are often overwhelmed and suffer from feelings of helplessness. At its core, the site is about providing advice and insight to help remedy that problem."
As DeMarco gained experience caring for his mother, he decided to start writing more about the success he was having in fighting the disease. "I learned that the more I let her do, the more she could do," he says. "I learned that there were solutions to some of the problems posed by the disease."
This popular site, established in 2008, has more than 11,600 subscribers and over 62,500 unique visitors each month. It encourages every single reader to comment and share his or her experiences. Readers learn from each other. But most importantly they learn that they are not alone.
People who sign up automatically receive links in their email in-boxes to all of articles published on the site. These articles receive numerous comments, sometimes up to 50 or more each, from the site's large, loyal readership. In addition, articles from the site have been syndicated on Reuters Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, Time Warner, the Chicago Sun Times, the Houston Chronicle, and Livestrong -- just to name a few.
DeMarco says the most rewarding aspect of running the Alzheimer's Reading Room is when people email him that they've had a breakthrough in their caregiving attitudes and skills as a result of reading articles posted there.
The Alzheimer's Reading Room shows what one person with a mission to help others can accomplish through research, personal experience, drive and dedication. DeMarco is a remarkable man who deserves the highest praise from every person who is loving and caring for a person with Alzheimer's disease.
Marie Marley is the author of the award-winning Come Back Early Today: A Memoir of Love, Alzheimer's and Joy, available on Amazon. She is the co-author of the forthcoming book, Finding Joy in Alzheimer's: New Hope for Caregivers. Her website (ComeBackEarlyToday.com) contains a wealth of information for Alzheimer's caregivers.