This blog is part of a year-long series aimed at addressing some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from family and adult children on the topics most concerning them regarding their aging parents or loved one. In 2012 Hebrew SeniorLife published the eBook "You & Your Aging Parent: A Family Approach to Lifelong Health, Wellness & Care," a compilation of answers from HSL geriatric experts in response to the many of the most frequently asked questions. We're reposting some of the most popular Q&A posts from our original eBook which was downloaded over 2,000 times. We're also adding new Q&As throughout the series that address topics not originally included in our eBook. Sign up to receive the blog series and download our original eBook at www.hslindependentliving.org.
In 2011, Dr. Ruth Westheimer came to NewBridge on the Charles for Hebrew SeniorLife’s College of Retirement Living. During her visit, she met with Hebrew SeniorLife Dementia Research, Medical and Care Team and interviewed them for the book she was then writing “Dr. Ruth’s Guide for the Alzheimer’s Caregiver: How to Care for Your Loved One without Getting Overwhelmed…and Without Doing it All Yourself.” Dr. Ruth recognized the HSL team with a special thank you in the Acknowledgements section of the book.
Two of those professionals who contributed to Dr. Ruth’s book were Tara Fleming- Caruso, psychotherapist and Marketing Manager for the Assisted Living Community at NewBridge, and Dr. Ruth Kandel, MD, Geriatrician for Hebrew SeniorLife. What follows is an interview between Tara, Dr. Kandel and Dr. Ruth regarding Dr. Ruth’s book and what Tara and Dr. Kandel believe to be some of the most pertinent information contained therein.
The interview questions and answers will comprise a series of posts on our blog over the next two weeks.
If you enjoyed this content, we encourage you to let us know by sharing your own story in the blog comments below, by filling out our “Tell Us Your Story” form, or by leaving a comment on our Facebook page.
Tara Fleming-Caruso and Dr. Ruth Kandel: What makes you passionate about this topic, caring for the Alzheimer’s caregiver?
Dr. Ruth: Thankfully I have not had to deal with caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. But a number of friends who did share this burden came to me for advice. When they told me what they were experiencing, I started asking them questions, just as I do when people come to me with a problem about their sex lives or their relationship. I gave them guidance, which they’ve told me over and over again they’ve found very useful. I’m hopeful that what I learned in the process, together with my training in counseling, will help the caregivers who read this book.
Tara Fleming-Caruso: What is the most important piece of advice that you would give to a spouse caregiver?
Dr. Ruth: Take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. If your health deteriorates you won't be able to act as a caregiver, so don't neglect your own medical needs. Get some exercise, eat properly, go for checkups. And also take care of your mental state. If you're depressed, that's going to affect the quality of the care you give. Plus, your loved one wouldn't want to see the quality of your life diminish so drastically. So don't feel guilty about taking some pleasure out of life.