When my wife, Ann, 71, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011, we charted a course about how we were going to handle things. 

Holding hands, we stared at the computer, and it was through AARP’s website that I found a wealth of resources like the local Area Agency on Aging.  

I had to learn to use the washing machine and apply her makeup.  I help her get dressed.  

We resolved that Alzheimer’s was not going to steal our joy.  It really tried, and almost beat me several times. One thing that helps is keeping Ann as social as possible.  I take her to a local restaurant where she has breakfast with her women’s club.

People still want to participate in activities and know they are valued as human beings.

If I’m playing piano for her, which I do every day, the look on her face is just absolutely amazing. 

 

(written by Bruce Williams for AARP Bulletin, July/August 2019)

 ‘Just a few hours does wonders’

I was a caregiver for eight years before I discovered respite care.  Even before my husband, Matt, received a dementia diagnosis in 2011, he was becoming forgetful and needed my assistance.  

I didn’t know how our relationship would eventually change.  We couldn’t banter anymore, and he was forgetting the names of family and friends.  Because change makes him anxious, we stay home more. It’s been isolating.  

I learned about respite care from an AARP staffer.  The first day I dropped Matt off for four hours at Bethany Village, an adult care facility with a respite program called Day Club.  I was so relieved. I went and got a massage with a gift certificate I’d been given. I’d never had time to do that before.

I know Matt is safe at Day Club, because the people there are so incredibly competent and caring.  He sits with a bunch of men, fellow veterans in their military caps. They have lunch, socialize. 

When Matt is there, I can run errands, come home or have lunch with a friend.  It’s wonderful to have four hours to myself to do what I wish, even if it’s mundane things on my own.  

Just a few hours does wonders in restoring my energy and perspective.  No one likes to ask for help, but getting respite time is critical to surviving as a caregiver.

(written by Joy Perry for AARP Bulletin, July/August 2019)

Did you know that AARP is working to help making countless towns a better place to grow older?   Yep, Look around. AARP’s Livable Communities program is sprucing up America. By 2035, the 65-plus population in the USA will outnumber those under age 18—and AARP is working to help everyone adapt.

Already more than 370 communities nationwide and four states have become members of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States & Communities.

Members consider every facet of life for older residents—transportation, access to technology, business and tax incentives, appropriate housing (a big issue), access to health care, living costs & hiring practices.  The process is as individual as the needs of each community.  

AARP also has funded more than $2 million worth of Community Challenge grants.  Within two years, these quick-action grants went to 217 communities.

The results:  artistic bike racks in Annapolis, MD, an outdoor storytelling space on Blackfeet Nation tribal land in Montana, and an intergenerational community garden in the Florida Keys.

If it makes life easier, AARP walks the walk—complete with nicer sidewalks.