"I felt helpless and utterly confused by what had happened. I was trying to find a way to escape because I would never allow myself to stay in a marriage that had turned into that. I was desperate."
"My name is Rebecca I am caring for my Husband, I became a member of the Daybreak Centers’ support group October 2020. This group is a lifeline for those of us that have the job of caring for a loved one 24/7. The group is so supportive. When I describe a circumstance with my husband of 43 years that is a result of his diminishing cognitive abilities the people in this group “get it”. Some are nodding their heads before the sentence is finished. Many in the group have experienced what I’m seeing for the first time. I feel as if I don’t have to convince them what I’m saying is actually happening because so many have already experienced similar problems with their loved one. I don’t feel judged, just commiseration and support.
I’m 70 and I’ve been married to Joe for 43 years. In the past couple of years Joe has been experiencing increasingly troubling evidence of dementia. Six months ago he became violent and I was so shocked because he’s never been “that man”. I was hurt and dispairing. I felt helpless and utterly confused by what had happened. I was trying to find a way to escape because would never allow myself to stay in a marriage that had turned into that. I was desperate.
Fortunately I found Daybreak Centers and this group. The facilitators Karen and Susan are so knowledgeable and experienced in these matters that they are a wealth of information and reassurance. This group of caregivers is always teaching me new things. Devices to keep patients safe, coping tactics, the ability to discern the difference between “won’t do” to “can’t do” when my husband says or does things that appear selfish and hurtful. The ability to see how lost and afraid he’s feeling about his diminishing cognitive function has helped our relationship to evolve instead of destroying it. I can accept that these changes are happening to us not just him. His failing abilities affect us both.
This group has given me new tools and perspectives to cope with the baffling, frustrating, continually changing disease process of dementia. Initially I felt so personally defeated, hopeless, fearful and angry about the changes his dementia had brought to my life. Not just to my life but those of my adult children and his friends. I now am able to see what’s happening to him isn’t my personal failure. His search for someone to blame for his diminished abilities and perceptions often lands on me or one of my children. This group helps me to see the truth that it’s his perception that is damaged and he’s unable to reconcile how he feels about his losses and transfers blame to anyone but himself because it’s too much for him to accept.It helps me to be compassionate instead of defensive, I am able to continue to be calm, most of the time, instead of angry, loving instead of aloof (to protect my own emotions). It also helps me to see that I have my own life and his disease is separate from who I am and continue to be. I am still Rebecca. I still have my life and my friends and a hope and a future that isn’t dependent upon how anyone else views me.
I cannot stress enough how supportive this group is to one another. It isn’t just victims whining about their circumstances. These are real people with real solutions, real kindness and actual resources they’ve discovered to help them that work. I haven’t been to one group meeting that I didn’t leave with at least one nugget to add to my ability to make my life better. We encourage each other to take time for ourselves, to get a pedicure or carve out time for ourselves to spend with friends and self nurture. The validation, love and compassion are lifelines to get me though the week and sometimes just survive a particularly bad day.
I thank whatever agency helps this group continue. I would love to see more caregivers have this kind of help. I encourage anyone searching for a lifeline to reach out to find help and fellowship. We all need it and this is the place to find it."