National Volunteer Month 2022
Interview with Volunteer Deb K.
How are you connected with Alzheimer’s Los Angeles?
When my mom was officially diagnosed in 2018, I wanted to get into action and figure out how to deal with this disease. I was referred to Alzheimer’s Los Angeles by a friend, and I joined the Memory Club in the Fall of 2018. It was fabulous. Through that, I was connected to different resources, and I followed up with everything Alzheimer’s LA recommended. I attended a Support Group Facilitator Training and started running my own support group specifically for Adult Children. I even wrote the scripts for the caregiver tips video series. I am also a Social Media Ambassador and send out alerts on my social media accounts. I try to educate myself, and I want to be able to help others.
What attracted you to volunteer for Alzheimer’s LA in particular?
I heard great things about Alzheimer’s LA and the programs through my friend Nicole. It is convenient and it is local. Alzheimer’s LA was the first organization I called and everyone there was great and helpful. I want to give back to this community because they have been so helpful and continue to be helpful to me.
Does anyone in your life provide inspiration?
100% my mom. I wish my mom didn’t have Alzheimer’s disease, but she’s inspired me to connect with resources and find a purpose by helping others. Alzheimer’s is a wicked disease and it’s sad. But I’m finding positivity and purpose in these groups and activities. I try to make it a purposeful and positive experience.
What is the one thing you would recommend most to other caregivers?
The first thing I recommend to caregivers is to find a support group. Caregiving can be a very stressful and emotionally painful ride, but it’s more bearable when you connect with and learn from other people who “get it.” In a support group, you can share thoughts and feelings that may sound unkind but are valid and need to be expressed. You might be in different stages as others in the group, but the themes are common. You also can learn a lot in groups. The more informed you are, the better you are at making decisions.
Why is self-care important?
Self-care is so important because otherwise you are going to crack. This disease is overwhelming. It is frightening, and nobody wants to talk about it. To avoid negative feelings, I do need to practice self-care. I need to be a caregiver for my mom, for my kids, but most importantly, a caregiver for myself. If I’m not okay, my loved ones won’t be okay.
What are your self-care habits?
I ride a stationary bike and enjoy being outside and talking walks. I like to go for a drive and blast the music I enjoy listening to. I indulge in chocolate. I try to take pictures. Participating in support groups is also a form of self-care for me because connecting with people who understand what you’re going through is calming.
What made you want to become a volunteer support group facilitator?
Support groups have been invaluable to me, so I jumped at the opportunity to become a facilitator to help others. There will never be enough support groups, so it’s important to me to hold a group and support others.
Is there anything you think is important to mention?
Connecting with Alzheimer’s LA has been such an important and positive step for me. They connected me with support groups and provided crucial educational and community events that helped me and my loved one. Now I get to help others by volunteering. Being able to be a sounding board and make a small difference in somebody else’s life is rewarding. It makes you feel good.
Thank you, Deb for your support of the Alzheimer’s LA community!
What can you do?