Pamela Anderson has been a caregiver for a large part of her life. Her primary mission is to keep her mother, who is in the final stages of Alzheimer’s, healthy, happy and safe. Another mission is to spread awareness and understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and let other caregivers know they are not alone.
Anderson’s program, You are Not Alone-Dementia Talk with Pamela, can be viewed Thursdays at 7 p.m. EST on The Queen Silvy Now You Know Show on Facebook and YouTube, as well as on Anderson’s Facebook group page.
Anderson shares her own caregiving journey through her recorded videos that began more than a decade ago when her father had a stroke. “My mom, who is a retired nurse, became his caregiver,” said Anderson. “I would stop by for visits and began to notice changes in my mom’s behavior.”
Anderson said her mother would call and ask her to come by, then be out shopping and not remember calling her or even that she was supposed to be home caring for her husband. Her mother began to display agitation and defensiveness, something common among those living with Alzheimer’s.
Eventually, Anderson’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2012. As things progressed, and her mother needed full-time care. Anderson said, “that’s when I retired after 35 years in sales and promotion in radio and print to become a full-time caregiver for my parents.”
Anderson has an extensive family history with Alzheimer’s. “There are several members in my mom’s family who had/ have Alzheimer’s, including my aunt, my great-aunt and her two daughters,” Anderson said. “Now my mom and brother have this horrible disease. My brother is in a nursing home and my mom is progressing to the final stages, and I recently arranged home hospice care for her.”
“I strive to stay aware, informed and encouraged,” said Anderson. “That’s why I do You are Not Alone-Dementia Talk with Pamela, to help others, to share the things I’ve learned and to spread awareness and knowledge. I want other caregivers to understand they are not alone in facing Alzheimer’s.”
Criticism from family and friends can be a challenge and discouraging to caregivers said Anderson. “Being a caregiver can be one of the most difficult roles you have in life, and it can be even more difficult when you are faced with caregiver criticism. You get all kinds of opinions and suggestions from all directions, but mostly from family and friends.”
“You must learn to manage criticism and set some boundaries for yourself,” she continued. “You don’t have to act on every suggestion. Just do what you know is right for your loved one and keep them healthy, happy and safe.”
A support system for practical tips, resources and education is important for all caregivers. “The Alzheimer’s Association has been the best support system through my caregiving journey,” stated Anderson. “They provide excellent resources and important information to caregivers, and continue to be one of my most valuable support systems.”
“Locally, the Alzheimer’s Association provides care and support services, as well as education programs, absolutely free of charge,” said Julia Pechlivanos, Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association Northwest Ohio Chapter.
“We have early-stage groups for individuals recently diagnosed, as well as support groups for caregivers, plus care consultations. Dementia touches the entire family as well as friends, and the Alzheimer’s Association is here to help everyone impacted.”
November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month. In Ohio, there are 220,000 individuals living with the disease and 442,000 unpaid caregivers.
Support for caregivers includes in-person and virtual support groups, virtual and in-person education programs, family care consultations and a 24/7 Helpline that is staffed by trained clinicians to offer confidential support and information to people living with dementia, caregivers, families and the public. Call the 24/7 Helpline 800.272.3900, or visit www.alz.org/nwohio to locate community programs and services.
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s®. Visit www.alz.org or call our 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.