Feb 6, 2010

A Virtual Alzheimer's Support Group

....comments bring on another dimension--maybe validation -- Kerry Runyeon....
By Bob DeMarco

This year, one of my goals is to promote more interaction in the comments box below the articles. As the year goes on, I am hoping to see more back and forth between readers.

In order to accomplish this mission, I am going to need some advice from readers. Advice on how to best accomplish this mission.

I know that many of you attend support groups, and that many of you are, or have been support group moderators. Perhaps you have some ideas on how to promote interaction on this blog. If so, please use the comments box below this article and share your ideas. You are also welcome to email me directly.

It might be possible over time to broaden the scope of the Alzheimer's Reading Room by turning the blog into a "kind of" virtual support group. More like a "short burst" support that caregivers can use to help them get through a trying day, a trying period, or to get as Kerry Runyeon said -- some validation.

I am not trying to say that the Alzheimer's Reading Room is going to take the place of a full blown hour long support group session. What I envision is helping caregivers that are not currently attending a support group, or caregivers that are between meetings. I know from experience that almost everyday you need a little hope. Often this hope comes from someone that understands.

I know this is possible because the Alzheimer's Reading Room is my support group. I mean that I receive constant support and positive reinforcement from the readers of this blog.

I have an advantage over the typical reader because I receive lots of email. These emails remind me that I am not alone. Often they make me think. Often they make me feel. Often they encourage me. They encourage me not to give up. They make me want to find the solution to a problem. Not to let the problem drive me over the edge.

I receive emails from readers encouraging me, and sometimes praising me. I learned a long time ago, I little pat on the back goes a long way when you are having a difficult day. I believe this kind of encouragement kept me from throwing in the towel. That is my belief.

Collectively on this blog, we have lots of experienced, loving, caregivers. Each of these caregivers has a lot to offer. Most importantly, they have an empathy that can only be gained by living in the front row. An understanding.

We have lots of people on this blog that work with the elderly. Over the course of their experience they have seen problems that are common to us -- the readers, the caregivers. They have a lot to offer. Their experience provides a short cut to effective, loving, caregiving. It is lot easier to learn from the experience of another, then to learn by trial and error in the front row.

I need to find a way to unleash all of the above, and sooner or later I will.

Your comments and advice are welcome here. If you have an idea for a new feature, or if, you are willing to write from the perspective of a support moderator, or expert in the field, let me know.

Its time to broaden the purview of the Alzheimer's Reading Room. We have a much broader and more diverse readership then we had one year ago. The needs of this readership are broader. We have an opportunity to accomplish a great deal more than we have in the past.

In a real sense we are a virtual support group. All we need to do is find a way to organize. To do what we have been doing more effectively.

Imagine all the experiences we have -- Collectively. We have the vehicle to accomplish a great deal of good. What we need to do is figure out how to make it work effectively.

Its all part of the metamorphosis.

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Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 1,200 articles with more than 9,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

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