By Scott Yates

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed as the caregiver for my wife with Alzheimer’s. With Dementia Alliance of N.C., I know I am not alone. Help surrounds me in the community.

I am blessed to be able to work from home and care for my wife. When the pandemic struck, we adapted. All was under control, though it was a juggling act. Then I fell after missing a step in my garage. Surgery to repair a ruptured quadriceps tendon on New Year’s Eve 2020. Everything I thought was running like clockwork fell apart, including caring for my wife. 

I was reminded to trust and know that God is always in control. Friends rallied to help as I realized I could not get up from the garage floor. My son, Lee, and mother, Audre, traveled from their homes in other states to quickly be by my side to help me care for Nell. 

I tried to discern what lessons I could glean after getting past the “why me” remorse. The Lord gave me the strength to quit smoking after a lifetime of addiction and allowed circumstances that made me realize that I needed help as a caregiver. On the recommendation of the leader of a church-based caregiver support group, I was led to contact Dee Dee Harris at the Dementia Alliance. 

In the state of mind I was in, my mom took the lead to engage with Dee Dee. “My son has cared for his wife for many years but due to his fall he could no longer fulfill that role,” Audre said. “I stepped into being a caregiver for my son and my daughter-in-law which was the biggest challenge I have ever had.

“I knew Alzheimer’s from afar, being with my son and Nell on holidays and during vacations, but that was nothing like the day to day 24/7 schedule that is required. I tried to help by making calls to insurance companies, home health care, neighbors, churches, support groups, but it all left me confused and wondering where to turn next. My last call of the day was to Dementia Alliance of North Carolina and I later knew it was divine intervention. Their Dementia Navigator paved the way for me to get help we so desperately needed. The compassionate, caring, resourceful Dee Dee assured me that Dementia Alliance could provide us with resources and support. Dementia Alliance helps caregivers, and their families, help patients. I am living proof and will always be grateful.”

Each day after the fall was a struggle. I was overwhelmed with needs beyond my control. I could not have made it through those days without the help of my mom, my son and our friends. I learned through the Dementia Alliance that help was available to help me care for my wife. I was reminded that each morning I awake is a blessing from God who gives me love and strength each day to care for my wife.

Help included therapists to work with my wife and teach us both how to adapt and hiring a home care agency. Groups working with the Dementia Alliance suggested the resources and helped arrange the interviews. I have learned enough about this terrible disease that more challenges are ahead. I give thanks and am comforted that the angels at the Dementia Alliance will be here to help, to pave the way.