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Caring for caregivers

Alzheimer’s support groups provide empathy and encouragement

— “I never would have thought of that,” Lee said, “because she always fears about him getting up in the middle of the night.”

During the discussion group, Lee would often refer back to his personal experiences to help ease others into talking about their loved ones.

“I think my wife was going downhill before we really realized what was happening,” John Strizzi said. “All of a sudden about a year ago, I got laid up and couldn’t get out of bed … and it became perfectly clear real quick that she could not cope.”

Strizzi said his wife wasn’t able to take care of herself without him helping, and doctors said she needed to get memory care. Recently, his wife fractured her ankle, but nobody knows how it happened.

“They say, ‘I don’t think she knows where she is or why,’” Strizzi said, “but life goes on.”

Strizzi’s daughter-in-law, Cathy, joined him at the meeting and has been helping him care for his wife. Cathy Strizzi’s mother has severe dementia, so she’s familiar with the challenges he is facing.

“It is scary because as the kid, you don’t always know what the best thing is to do,” Cathy Strizzi said.

For information on the Alzheimer’s Association of Northeastern New York visit www.alz.org/northeasternny, which has a link to a calendar of all upcoming meetings. You can also call Karen Brit, western region program manager of the Alzheimer’s Association, at (518) 867-4999, ext. 303, for meeting information, too. The 24-hour helpline is (800) 272-3900.

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