Posted by Beth Soltzberg

Man on tightropeIn the words of Pauline Boss, PhD, dementia creates a loss "that is unclear; it has no resolution, no closure." Alzheimer's and related disorders also create memory and perceptual changes, personality changes, and levels of disability that can wreak havoc with daily life.

When all this is happening to a parent or parents, a busy adult may not get the support he or she needs. For just this reason, JF&CS has created Balancing Act, a monthly group. It's a place where people juggling work or the care of young families while coping with a parent or parents' dementia can talk to others who truly get it.

The group met for the first time on January 9 and tackled the sticky subject of extended family and how dementia changes the way people relate to one another. Group members ranged from those with loving, communicative families to those whose parent or other family members had never been loving or supportive. For all, dementia brought changes that reverberated throughout the whole family.

The group shared tips for engaging siblings in a parent's care, understanding and communicating with the well parent, and finding ways to get support and assistance when family members will not give it. The relief of talking to others in a similar situation was palpable, and the group shared laughs together as well as some tears.

We look forward to meeting next in February to explore another aspect of this difficult journey. Finding a balance is hard, but being together helps.

Learn more about Balancing Act.

Beth SoltzbergBeth Soltzberg, LCSW, MBA, coordinates Living with Chronic Illness, a program of Jewish Family & Children's Service encompassing support, education, and the arts. Beth's work includes facilitating caregiver support and education groups, and designing new offerings for families affected by Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. Beth earned her MSW and MBA from the University of Chicago and a certificate in end-of-life care from the Smith College School of Social Work. She holds an advanced credential in hospice and palliative care social work.