BECAUSE WE CARE Author - Fran Lewis -
Book Reviewer - MARTHA A CHEVES
As the primary and only caregiver for my mom who has Alzheimer’s I have had to develop different ways to keep myself active and my mind stimulated. All too often as a caregiver you become so immersed in taking care of the needs of the person who is ill that we forget about our own. When you make the decision to care for a family member at home you are really taking on a challenge of herculean proportion. Every day is different and every challenge unique and must be handled differently but with kindness and care. When a person has Alzheimer’s the hardest thing to deal with is their changing and erratic behaviors. They can be calm one minute and out of control or violent the next. These behaviors tend to put a lot of stress and strain on the caregiver.’
Through her trial and error learning Author Fran Lewis discovered some of the most basic yet important things that the caregiver will be confronted with when caring, not only for those with Alzheimer’s but other diseases and incapacitating illnesses. Through her book Because We Care she brings to light the warning signs of Alzheimer’s as well as the importance of discussing your fears with the patient’s doctor. She explains why it’s so important to follow a routine with the patient to keep some of their confusion down. This includes things as simple as when to go to the bathroom, when to eat and even bed time. She stresses the importance of security with Alzheimer’s patients. They do have a tendency to wander off so items such as ID bracelets or necklaces are exceptionally important as well as keeping a current picture handy in case the police are brought in to help with the find.
Lewis discusses the choices you might face as to keeping the patient at their own home, having round the clock nurses, moving them into your own home or placing them in a facility. She brings to light the pros and cons, not just for the patient but also for the caregiver. How to find a suitable facility and even what questions to ask of not only a facility but of nurses for in-home-care. And truly just as important, how to spot patient abuse and what to do if you suspect or know this is happening to your loved one.
Lewis also speaks, through first hand knowledge, about Traumatic Brain Injuries, which caused the death of her sister. And I must mention too that the proceeds for this book go to Montefiore Hospital to the fund they set up in memory of Fran Lewis' mom and sister.
But one thing Lewis puts heavy stress on is the importance of the caregiver’s own health and well being.
She impresses the fact that the caregiver’s whole normal way of life will change when taking over their patient. The stress that goes along with being a caregiver is so much more than you can ever imagine. And to help with this stress, Lewis offers suggestions throughout the book that will help when dealing with this phase of the care.
I’ve only had short bouts with being a caregiver and never for an Alzheimer’s patient. My Dad and I were both blessed with his being alert until the last couple days of his life. But I still know the stress that just watching him deteriorate in a short 5 month period put on me. I can’t imagine watching someone with Alzheimer’s change into a person who I no longer know nor knows me. For any of you out there that are going through this situation, I suggest you read this book. I really feel it just might help. For those of you who aren’t currently acting as a caregiver, this is still a book I recommend you read. You never know when you too might have to make the choices and deal with the stress that Lewis and people like her have dealt with and are still dea