Alzheimer Caregiver Support Group

My dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease for over 4 years now. Our family journey with dementia (which Alzheimer is a form of) has had its ups and downs, and even periods of relative stability. We’ve been supported in various ways from home care to adult day care, and both my mum and dad are in an amazing program called Minds in Motion that engages them in fitness and social activities. For all the help we’ve been getting, the Tham family is grateful. We have also supported the Alzheimer Society of BC by participating in events such as Walk for Memories and advocated for other families living with dementia by sharing our story. Together, individuals and organizations support each other in the daily and long term demands of this devastating disease. There IS “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.” and for a current snapshot of what’s been going on at the Society, check out the current issue of its newsletter.

Caregiving can be all consuming and caregiver self-care is often neglected. One of the ways the Society is helping caregivers care for themselves is through support groups. There are groups for spouses, adult children, Chinese-speaking caregivers and just launched in January 2014, a Rainbow Group for LGBTQ caregivers and/or those caring for an LGBTQ individual with dementia. My mum goes to a spousal group with her Minds in Motion lady friends and I’ve been attending the Adult Children and Rainbow groups. As a gay man who is a secondary caregiver to his English speaking Singaporean Chinese father with dementia, I applaud the Society for recognizing and supporting diversity in our communities. Caregivers may share similar experiences but our stories and perspectives are different – a son may not be as forthcoming if his mother is in the same support group or vice versa, an immigrant may get lost in a discussion due to the nuance of language and culture, a caregiver may have unique LGBTQ issues and challenges only other caregivers who have faced them can relate to.

I encourage all families living with dementia to reach out to the Alzheimer Society of BC for support. Please contact Kara Turner, Vancouver Support & Education Coordinator, at 604-675-5153 or kturner@alzheimerbc.org for more information on the Rainbow or any other caregiver support group. You are not alone and participating in a support group focused on mutual aid is one way we can help each other and practice self-care.

Written By

Patrick Tham

Caregiver & Alzheimer Society of BC Volunteer