How do we Care for the Caregiver?

April 18, 2024

In comedy we talk a lot about timing so I’m very conscious of the recent report released by the Alzheimer’s Association and the fact that I’m heading to San Francisco this week to run two caregiver workshops. A new digital caregiver resource called Kinary has invited me up to bring some comic relief and share specific tools for self-care and creating connection through all stages of cognitive decline. I’ll be honest, these are my favorite workshops to run, getting me back to the heart of what we do. Two statistics revealed have given this trip even more urgency.

One of the most disturbing facts is that “59% of caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients in North Carolina reported having at least one chronic condition, compared to caregivers for non-dementia patients.” Sobering, but not that surprising given the toll this specific kind of care exacts physically and emotionally. Another stat that seems most relevant to what we’re doing this weekend is that “41% of caregivers in North Carolina surveyed reported they were depressed and 74% said they were “somewhat concerned” about maintaining their own health.” Herein lies the rub, to put it mildly. Caring for people facing Alzheiner’s, which as of last Wednesday was calculated as 6.9 million people aged 65 and older in the United States, is exhausting in every way. It’s often physically demanding, definitely emotionally draining and it can absolutely suck a sense of humor out of every waking moment. Which is why sometimes, just as I did, you need an outsider to come in and help you find some laughter. To give you permission to find something funny even in the face of relentless loss. Fortunately, I know it’s possible. I don’t know it like I read a book about it. I know it like I lived it. And I have a few tricks up my sleeve to share for how to help people find some levity where you least expect it.

If you’re in the San Francisco area on Sunday, and want to learn some tools for yourself, or to support a friend or loved one, come on out. It’s free and I’m pretty sure there will be snacks too.