Jewish Community Outreach Social Worker
Susan was referred to CaringKind by a social worker, at Sephardic Bikur Holim in Brooklyn, for help with her parents. Her father had been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and her mother had a number of medical issues, including visual impairment. Susan needed guidance on how to persuade her parents to stop driving and to get a home health aide to assist with household maintenance and meal preparation.
When Susan first met with me, CaringKind’s social worker in Brooklyn, she discussed her own difficulties in accepting her father’s diagnosis. What made it even more challenging was that the neurologist who examined her father never scheduled a follow-up with the family to discuss the results of the medical testing. Susan took matters into her own hands and called the doctor, only to receive the devastating diagnosis over the phone. This same physician only agreed to make a follow-up appointment four months later. Understandably, Susan felt lost having this news with nowhere to turn for information or support. She also grappled with deciding whether to tell her parents about her father’s diagnosis.
I helped Susan understand the implications of the diagnosis and encouraged her to learn all she could about the disease. Accordingly, Susan attended our Understanding Dementia Seminar for Family Caregivers as well as our Annual Meeting where experts in Alzheimer’s and dementia discussed innovations in diagnosis. Susan was so inspired by all that she learned from her meetings, she encouraged her siblings to participate in CaringKind programs as well.
Several family meetings ensued where I met with both siblings as well as their mother. It was at this session that Susan felt safe and comfortable enough to share her father’s diagnosis with her family. Upon hearing the information, her mother was understandably distressed. I provided the emotional support she needed to process the news. By the end of the session, Susan was able to have a productive discussion with her mother about driving and obtaining household help.
With a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or any dementia, acceptance of a diagnosis is an ongoing process. This includes learning new information and adapting to a new situation. When working with many members of a family, each person will go through acceptance and denial at varying times. Through professional guidance and compassionate care, they were able to gain the knowledge and strength to get through their frustrating ordeal. And Susan, her parents, and her siblings know that they can contact CaringKind at any time to manage the practical and caring aspects of their lives while receiving the emotional support they need.