I have been blessed with one great family! They have supported me from day one when I wanted to play soccer and was one of the first females, that is I was one of 8, in the City of Manchester that was brave enough for the challenge. Who would have known it is now one of the most popular sports in the city? I reflect on this because our family supports each other. We have supported each other for our various charity events, through health crisis, weddings, births and attending special events.
I clearly remember when my Grandmother Rachel passed away. She was very giving and remember all the laughs we had while cleaning out her home after she passed away. Our family came together to unite and help each other out. We had a great time and had lots of great memories and laughs during this difficult time. To this very day I still have a small doll that was placed on one of her birthday cakes with her picture taped to the face. I always laugh when it catches my eye. This side of my family is solid. We have traditions that have gone on for many generations. Every Christmas at 1pm we all gather together. We each contribute to the meal, help clean up and do dishes and then we open up gifts, play games and just talk.
It is sad to say the other side of my family is the opposite. My grandparents were very caring and giving and also volunteered endless hours to their community. We always gather for the holidays and have had many great memories. My grandmother would always do the majority of the work for the holidays. When my Grandmother Ginny passed away the family broke and fell apart. I was truly heartbroken that some family would be so selfish during a critical time. My grandmother fell sick and when she and my grandfather needed family by their side they were only supported by a few. Still to this day I don't quite understand how you cannot support your family when they need you most.
My Grandfather is now starting his next chapter and had come to the decision to sell his home and move to a great place. His eyesight is getting very poor and will need to limit his driving. He was going to dinner to either his nephews home or my parents’ home daily for his nutritional needs. I don't cook very well so his options were limited. Our family has spent endless hours again between my parents, brothers and nephew helping him get organized and clean out his home and donate to charity. We spent hours going through pictures and boxed them for different members of the family. I see my "Bumpy" weekly. He stops by and has coffee at work. I also have hired a caregiver to help him at his home. He is slowing down but still needs to be loved by his family. He is a bit stubborn but when allowed to make his own decisions he is making the right choices. I love him to pieces.
I met with a couple several years ago that made me cry. They were looking into services and are distant family members. They also felt abandoned by family and had tears in their eyes as they explained their situation. The rarely saw their family and felt all alone. They actually asked for minimal help and were rejected. All I could do was offer my support and told them to try and reach out again. It is situations like this that tears my heart apart. They did end up moving into a great community that offered them additional support that they needed.
At this time I feel extremely sad as one of the couple above has moved into a nursing home and is nearing the end of her life. I did talk with the social worker whom stated the husband visits daily but they rarely see any other family visit.
I hear stories of abandonment all the time. Some families may have a small family support system that could be overwhelming to them. This is why our agency exists today. To offer them support and love in the absence of family. Seniors should not be ignored or forgotten about by their family. If you cannot support in person then support them via telephone calls and send greeting cards or better yet find someone to assist them if you can't. We need to sacrifice of ourselves to give back to them as they sacrificed for us at one time.
Every 69 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease. Some may live only a short time after their diagnoses, others may spend 20 years with the disease. For most, a family member will be their primary caregiver, a job that 60% rank as high or very high in emotional stress.
I have been selected to receive an "Unsung Hero Award" that will be honored with many other exceptional individuals on November 30, 2011 by the Alzheimer's Association MA/NH Chapter. I have been asked to speak for about 4 minutes. This is the first time I will need to prepare a speech and not sure even where to begin as my journey with The Alzheimer's Association started 8 years ago and my driving force for helping others with dementia is very hard to explain or describe. Where do I begin?