It was such as sad request, “Is there anyone out there who can take care of my wife Ann, while I have hernia surgery?”

Bob was reaching out to a online community of strangers for care for his wife, who has dementia, while he had much needed hernia surgery. How did Bob get to this point in time?

  • Bob always thought of himself as big and strong, certainly able to take care of his sweet, tiny, confused wife. He never thought of himself as growing old, with muscles and tissues aging and getting weak.
  • Giving direct dementia care to any adult is difficult and requires lifting, holding, supporting, … So many of the tasks involved in direct care – dressing, bathing, re-positioning in bed, – require brute strength, and a good back. And if that tiny, sweet, confused wife resists care, she can become quite strong.
  • Because Bob was so sure of his ability to provide care, he didn’t plan for a time when he couldn’t be there. When friends and family first found out about Ann’s dementia people did offer, “Let me know if there is anything I can do.” Bob wasn’t ready with a good answer, wasn’t good at saying “Yes, and Thank You.”
  • As time went on Bob and Ann became more isolated, as their days revolved around Ann’s care. Bob lost his connections with old friends, former work acquaintances and especially their church community. And now when he realized his need, he felt too much time had gone by to reach out to former communities.

For the present Bob can start with his local community – his township center, ask for the senior advocate, social services, and all services offered by his community.  Also his library may be a meeting point for local support groups, for dementia care.

Please look for my new book “You, the Best Caregiver” for the chapter on how to create your own support group.

Virginia Garberding RN

Certified in Restorative Nursing and Gerontology