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Family Caregivers are not limited to Family

Christine Bitzer, LCSW

It is currently estimated that there are 5.4 million people over age 65 living with Alzheimer’s in the US, and 15 million family and friends help provide unpaid care for those living with the disease. In the Seabury Care Management Program, we see the beauty of these small coalitions of people on a daily basis. What we have found extremely heartwarming is when neighbors have gathered around an individual to help support him or her.

Recently I had several Information Line calls from concerned neighbors. I know it is “Family” Caregivers month, but family comes in all shapes and sizes and for these people, this was their family. The neighbors were calling because after months or years of helping the person remain in their home, they knew they were approaching an impasse and needed to consult someone for further assistance.

First, I am glad that I can hold up these examples of neighbors working together when people insinuate that no one knows their neighbors anymore. Second, it is wonderful that they reached out for help. Caregivers often give their all to the recipient. Aging Life Care Managers end up being called when the caregiver has ended up in the hospital because they did not take care of themselves. Your loved one is the most important person in the world, but if something happens to you, who will take care of them? Much like when on an airplane the flight attendant reminds you to put on your oxygen mask before your child’s.

Add to caregiving the devastation of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease and it is quite a challenging scenario that often leads to depression or other health issues for the caregiver. To all the caregivers out there, you are not alone. It does not make you weak or uncaring to ask for help. It does not make you less of a woman (or man) to seek treatment. It is the right thing to do to make sure that you will be around to see them through this phase of their life.

The Alzheimer’s Association ( is a wonderful resource for education. One of our primary jobs as Aging Life Care Managers is to educate the caregiver on dementia and what is appropriate. The Alzheimer’s Association can also provide you with support groups near you. The Family Caregiver Alliance ( is also a great resource for family caregivers.

Seabury Resources for Aging is committed to supporting our clients, families and friends affected by dementia. Thank you to all you caregivers!

For more information: Christine Bitzer - 202.364.0020

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