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Caring for caregivers

Each year, approximately 39.8 million individuals provide care to an adult with a disability or illness in the United States. Among those, 15.7 million are individuals caring for a family member who has Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia.

It’s a full-time job with no vacations or weekends. Between cooking, bathing, dressing and providing medical care, caregivers are “on the job” an average of nine hours a day.

Luckily, programs like Wichita Presbyterian Manor’s Cypress Memory Care Adult Day Service, provide caregivers with hands-on support and a chance to take a well-deserved break.

For Mary LeRoy, the program was a Godsend.

Having already been a caregiver for her adult daughter, Mary’s responsibilities increased in 2012 when her husband, Elmer, was diagnosed with dementia. At first, she tried taking it on alone, but eventually she turned to Wichita Presbyterian Manor (WPM).

“I learned about the manor’s day program and didn’t do anything about it for quite a few years. Then a year ago, I decided I would try it,” said Mary. “At first Elmer didn’t want to go—he was very confused with being there and then coming home—but then he got to a place where he really enjoyed being there.”

Elmer’s need for round-the-clock care reminded Mary of the toll that being a caregiver for her daughter had taken on her and her marriage.

“It really affected me mentally because we couldn’t go out with friends, it was just too hard to get a babysitter,” said Mary. “We just couldn’t go out like a normal couple would.”

Based on her own experiences, Mary has some advice for anyone who suddenly finds themselves thrust into the role of caregiver.

“Take advantage of the facilities and programs that are in Wichita,” said Mary. “Make sure you get a lot of ‘me’ time—you have to learn to do that—and go to a support group.”

If you, or someone you know, is currently serving as a caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, WPM provides a support group at 4 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month in the community’s conference room. To learn more, contact Amy Watson at 316-942-7456.

For more information about Adult Day Services, contact Cherree Hudspeth, sales and admissions counselor, at 316-942-7456.

Photo: Mary LeRoy is no stranger to caregiving after caring for her adult daughter for many years. When her husband, Elmer, was diagnosed with dementia, she found support with the Adult Day Services at Wichita Presbyterian Manor.

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