National Family Caregivers Month: Honoring Caregivers This November
SIOUX FALLS, S.D.-November is National Family Caregivers Month. According to the Alzheimer’s Association of South Dakota, there are 38,000 family members and friends caring for someone who lives with Alzheimer’s. However, there’s more that we all can do to help.
At the Bentz household, they are focused on making memories. Two years ago, Sue and Jay Bentz went to Hawaii with their three kids. A year ago they went to Fort Myers Florida. This Christmas they already have a trip planned to Puerto Rico. That’s because they don’t know how much time they have left to enjoy with Jay.
“Just trying to do the best we can each day and being happy and I think that’s the only thing that we can do,” said Jay.
Around four years ago, when Jay was 56, he began showing signs of Alzheimer’s. It’s a disease that slowly causes people to lose their memory.
“It’s tough to plan for because you don’t know what to expect, you don’t know how fast or how slow or anything like that. So we are just trying to enjoy life as much as possible,” said Sue.
Because of Alzheimer’s, the 59-year-old had to retire early. He’s also stopped driving.
“But he’s really got a great attitude and he’s got a really good support group of friends,” said Sue.
Right now, the disease is early on, so Sue considers herself a “care partner.” However, throughout this journey she will become Jay’s caregiver. A caregiver is anyone caring for and supporting someone living with Alzheimer’s disease.
“So much of what they do is so selfless, and I think a lot of times we don’t even understand everything that they are giving. It’s something they do day in and day out,” said Leslie Morrow, Executive Director for the Alzheimer’s Association of South Dakota.
The organization is urging folks to take time this month to recognize what caregivers do. Also, to offer them support, such as making sure they’re getting the care they need as well.
“Even if it’s popping in and saying ‘let me sit with your loved one for an hour, why don’t you go out and get a cup of coffee, get your nails done, or meet up with friends,’ whatever they love to do. Even being able to step away from that caregiving role for an hour or so can make all the difference,” said Morrow.
Resources are available to families living with Alzheimer’s:
Next week, the Alzheimer’s Association of South Dakota is holding a holiday open house. They’ll have tips and resources when it comes to caring for someone with dementia during the holiday season. The open house is Tuesday, Nov. 19th at their office at 4303 S. Technology Drive in Sioux Falls. It runs from 10 am to 4 p.m.
You can also check out some holiday resources here: https://www.alz.org/help-support/resources/holidays
There is also an Alzheimer’s hotline that is available 24-7. You can call 800-272-3900 to talk with trained social workers and ask any questions.