ACT on Alzheimer's: You don’t have to go it alone

In an effort to raise awareness, educate our community, reduce the stigma associated with Alzheimer’s disease and assist families with resources who have been touched by Alzheimer’s disease; this month’s article highlights exploring the possibility of seeking support with care-giving by speaking with a professional therapist. The demands of care-giving can be exhausting and overwhelming. But there are steps you can take to manage stress and regain a sense of balance, joy and hope in your life. Figuring out how to work with a therapist can be daunting. Here are some tips that can make taking this step easier. 

Know when to seek help

Building a therapeutic relationship may be helpful when your ability to function is curtailed by “feelings of anxiety, lack of motivation, feeling lost or hopeless, social issues, dealing with caregiving issues, relationship struggles, grief, family crisis, etc. If you are spending at least an hour each day worrying or thinking about these issues, causing you to feel distracted or to under function in important roles in your life, you may benefit from therapy. 

Know that the first hurdle will be the hardest

Meeting a therapist is stressful, especially for somebody who is already struggling. But therapists want to help. Even if the first therapist you see is not the right fit for you, or there is no sliding - scale spots left, or they don’t take your insurance. Reaching out is the first step and good therapists will do their best to either be the one that helps you or refer you to someone who can. Good therapists are trained not to leave people in the lurch. 

Talk first

Ask for a 15 - minute phone call before you book an appointment. Write down your questions in advance (or search “questions to ask a therapist” online). Therapists are working for you. They can be considered part of your care-giving team. Advocate for yourself and ask lots of questions. 

Find your fit

You are a unique individual. If you do not find a therapist who you click with, it is not guaranteed that they will be understanding about your unique struggle or educated about what you are dealing with. There are search engines like Psychology Today, Inclusive Therapists and Therapy Den that can make finding a match easier. Therapists can indicate their own identities, along with basic information about their training and specialties. 

Listen to yourself

Keep checking in with yourself. Is this person answering questions in a way that feels defensive, or do I feel held by this person? Are my questions being answered honestly and thoroughly? Do I feel comfortable right now? You can derive a lot of information from sitting with your own reaction to the person. The best therapist will help you uncover the wisdom inside you to help heal.

FOR MORE RESOURCES and guidance in caring for someone with dementia, contact Jayne Mund, Caregiver Consultant, at 651-257-7905 or email jaynem@familypathways.org.

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