Alzheimer's support group forms for those afflicted
“It helps to have people in similar situations with you because those who haven’t experienced it won’t know what it is like,” said Blaufuss.
He wants support group meetings to be a social time when people with Alzheimer’s can have fun together as well as share difficulties and successes they have personally encountered.
When first diagnosed, the prognosis given by the physicians was frightening, according to Blaufuss. They talked a lot about the progression of the disease and the fact it is fatal.
As a result he began to feel upset about changes he was experiencing. He had always been very articulate and was therefore quoted in the newspaper when he spoke on various issues. He taught as well. Now he couldn’t express himself as clearly and he was forgetting familiar things.
Yet it wasn’t the first time he had been in a difficult situation. After returning from a tour of duty in the Vietnam War he experienced post traumatic stress disorder. He realized he couldn’t change the situation but he could certainly deal with it just as before.
Therefore he began to talk to his friends about having Alzheimer’s and discuss it openly. He soon discovered attitude was half the battle. Also he found ways to continue to do the things he enjoys.
It was this openness to discuss the disease as well as a determination to continue to live life to the best of his ability that orchestrated a meeting with Bill Daley, a resident of Lake Almanor. Blaufuss was sitting on a lawn listening to the live entertainment at a crafts fair in Chester when Daley approached him, just to say hello to an old acquaintance.
At that time Blaufuss shared he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Daley shared the experiences he had with his brother who is in the late stages of the disease. They sat and talked about Alzheimer’s for more than an hour that day and continued to have conversations about the disease and other matters of interest over breakfast in Westwood once a week.
As this friendship grew they began to discuss establishing a support group for people with Alzheimer’s that they would lead as a team.
“Socializing is important. Tell someone you have a disease such as cancer and suddenly they don’t call you anymore. They don’t know how to talk to you and all of a sudden you have lost a friend because of it. Being proactive and talking about it may prevent that from happening,” said Daley.
Blaufuss agreed. His wife, Laima, found information on actions people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers can take to deal with the disease. He hands these papers out freely to people he meets in order to give them a better perspective on Alzheimer’s.
One comment on the sheet states: “Remember that you are not Alzheimer’s disease. You are still a person with a life full of accomplishments.”
Plans for a support group for people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are in the early stages. Blaufuss and Daley need to know how many residents in Lassen and Plumas County might be interested in participating. They are asking anyone interested in joining them to call — Bill Daley: (530) 259-4294 or Bix Blaufuss: (530) 256-3383.
Once the group is formed decisions on meeting sites will be made. Currently they have been told the group can meet at the Westwood Family Resource Center and Wildwood Senior Center in Chester.
“I think a support group would be helpful for many people,” said Blaufuss.
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