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.
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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.