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The Fight Against Dementia In The Family: One Woman’s Story

By Anne Brenner Posted June 1, 2013 at 2:03 pm

CHAPEL HILL- One local family member of a dementia patient is speaking out about how the disease can affect not just the sufferer, but also his or her loved ones—and she also wants the public to be aware of all the programs, including those at Home Instead Senior Care, that Chapel Hill has to offer for the families of those caregivers.

Susan Smialowitcz’s husband has struggled with dementia for the past seven years, and he’s currently in disease’s the advanced stages. When he was first diagnosed at the age of 60, she says she quickly learned that the town was well-equipped to handle people in her predicament.

“It’s not what you would ever expect to happen in your life, but one of the good things I can say is that Chapel Hill has wonderful resources,” she says. “That has certainly reduced my level of stress, or at least I’ve been able to compartmentalize it a little more, because I do have choices.”

Smialowitcz’s family worked with a variety of different eldercare programs, before eventually settling on Home Instead Senior Care. She says Home Instead has been especially helpful in keeping up with her husband as he has progressed through the various stages of dementia.

“I said from the beginning that I wanted companions, not a sitter,” she says. “When they first started with us, my husband was walking around and going outside, and that’s exactly what they did. Now he’s to the point where he needs complete care, and Home Instead has picked up right where I requested.”

And Smialowitcz adds that she’s particularly impressed with Home Instead Senior Care’s one-on-one approach to caretaking.

“Having someone with him has made a huge difference,” she says. “For instance, the young man who works with him now will sing to him, and music’s always been important. He’ll reach out and hold their hands.”

Apart from Home Instead’s resources, Smialowitcz says she recommends that all dementia patient caregivers get involved in a support group to meet other local residents who are facing similar circumstances. She says finding a passion away from the home can also make things easier.

“And the third thing I want to mention is my faith and the role that has played in helping me get through this,” she says. “It hasn’t taken away the stress at all, but with the kinds of resources like Home Instead, you learn to adapt.”
Home Instead Senior Care has launched the Family Caregiver Stress Relief campaign, which is designed to help friends and family members of dementia patients who are part of the caregiving process. For more information on the initiative, click here.

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