I Have Plans To Make A Difference
I am so excited! I have just attended my first conference on Alzheimer's and dementia. It was sponsored by The Alzheimer's Association, The Jaycees of Waldorf, and other businesses. Besides learning a lot from the guided discussions, I was able to meet and talk with people whose lives are being touched by this disease.
A woman named Valerie sat at my table with her two daughters. She is caring for her husband, who is 70 and has Alzheimer's Disease. As we spoke between presentations, Valerie was very patient with me as I asked about her husband's condition. Valerie told me that her husband, formerly an engineer, has lost his ability to communicate, which frustrates him greatly. (I can understand how he feels. I don't know how well I'd be doing if I hadn't decided to begin writing. At first, writing was difficult for me - even laborious. As with almost everything, practice helps. I guess my fighting to keep active has helped).
Val's husband is a lucky man to have a loving and devoted wife and daughters. A big support group is important!
Linda sat at my table, also. She is a single mom who lives with her mother, caring for her during the day and going to work at night. Her twin sister has moved back home and works the opposite shift so that their mother has 24 hour care. There is an older sister who lives at home also, but is little help due to physical problems of her own. All three sisters have given up a lot to move back home to care for their mother.
Additionally, Linda has already spent years taking care of her father, who died from Alzheimer's! So, here Linda sat at the conference-an expert herself. She could have probably led the conference single-handedly! I was both moved and impressed by her dedication and strength.
Many other resources were on hand at the conference. I spoke with representatives from a couple of different counties about the Safe Return program. This plan is mainly for those people much farther along the path of dementia than me. It is for people who may wander off on foot.
I was more interested in learning what to do if I get disoriented while behind the wheel of a car. The policemen to whom I spoke told me to use the OnStar in my car to ask for help. That I know how to do, so I am feeling more at ease. I know, though, that once I use the OnStar for help, I won't be driving much longer - if ever - again.
(Note to self: I'm not pushing THAT button anytime too soon!)
While at the conference, I spoke with representatives from assisted living housing. I found my local chapter's location for a support group. I want to go to one of their meetings. I may even go to another county and meet Valerie at her meeting, too. I spoke with an author, bought her books, and hope to contact her at a later date.
One of the most important pieces of information that I learned was my local chapter's Call Center phone number: 1-800-272-3900. You can call this number 24 hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks of the year. They have ready access to professionals as well as interpreters for those speaking a foreign language. It comforts me to know that my husband has somewhere to call for advice whenever he needs it. I am going to post that number on our wall...
I have plans to keep my eyes out for more conferences in the future. I am going to attend a support group. I want to read and learn more about clinical trials which may affect me.
I want to continue my advocacy for further fund allocation for Alzheimer's and dementia research. I want to encourage our Congress and our President to help those suffering. I have plans to research those individuals who are running for an elected office - to see which, if any, have included Alzheimer's/dementia topics in their political platform.
I have plans to write to these hopefuls to encourage their inclusion of this topic. I have plans to vote for those who show a true interest in these ailments. I plan on attending the Alzheimer's Walk next year, maybe even start a team of my own. I have plans to find and stay in touch with people who are being touched by this disease.
I have plans. That means I have a future. I have vascular dementia and, yet, I have a future! I am so excited!