Friday, March 24, 2017

Dementia Caregivers Conference

This is where I am today - studying crazy.  I know, I know, one cannot go where one already is and all that.  I often feel like I am the one who is losing my marbles, but whatever my personal sanity is, this fact remains: I am a full-time caregiver of a man with dementia.

My sweet dad has Parkinson's Disease.  He also has Lewy Body Dementia.  They are really two sides of the same coin, since when the body runs low on dopamine, the neurotransmitter that helps brain cells relay messages, it will affect both the body's ability to move (Parkinson's Disease), and the brain's ability to function (Lewy Body Dementia).  They don't always go together, but usually.  50 to 80% of Parkinson's patients will eventually get some dementia.  70% of Lewy Body patients develop some movement difficulties.  I learn as much about it all as I can.

Much of the conference was geared specifically towards Alzheimer's Disease, because it accounts for 60 to 80% of dementia.  Lewy Body Dementia is the second leading cause of degenerative dementia, but it's a distant second.  It was nice to hear the caregiver presentations, and to see so many of the people at my table nodding their head in understanding of the difficult parts.  It is wonderfully validating to be around other people who know how difficult it is to be a caregiver.  It's nice to talk with folks who just.. get it.  You can only do so much explaining, or outlining lists of needed tasks, or trying to describe what the burden feels like.  Unless you are in the trenches all day long, you just can't really understand like someone who is.

I loved it.  I liked the camaraderie, the information, the support, the resources, and the fruit buffet.  Yay for fruit!  I wish they had more conferences, and I would go to them all.  Trent is always so supportive and he worked from home, keeping an eye on my dad, so I could go.  I need to process all the information I got, and decipher all my notes, and see what I can start implementing.  There are always ways we can improve.

Now, back to the trenches.

For more information: Lewy Body Dementia Association and National Parkinson's Foundation

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