BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — November is National Caregivers Appreciation Month, and caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s can be difficult, especially if they’re a loved one.
Here in Bakersfield, the Alzheimer’s Disease Association of Kern County (ADAKC) gives caregivers the time they need to breathe, and the resources they need to support one another.
“You don’t think when you retire that this is going to be your occupation, taking care of your parent,” caregiver Karolyne Lebrecque said.
“It’s been a journey,” caregiver Jayne Mervau said. “Without ADAKC I wouldn’t have known what to do.”
“With November being national caregiver month, it always hits home for me,” ADAKC executive director Janelle Capra said. “It’s one of those things that until you serve in this role, you never quite understand it.”
“We’re having to do everything for my mom, day in and day out, and it’s very difficult,” caregiver Joyce Morentin said. “Coming to the ADAKC here has been a huge, huge lifeline.”
“My mom absolutely loves this place,” Lebrecque said. “As confused as she is, on weekends after her shower, she keeps asking, ‘Are we gonna go to school? Are you going to take me to school?’”
“They do dancing, and they do Zumba, and they do puzzles,” Mervau said.
“I know she dances, she comes out and says she dances,” Lebrecque said. “One time she came out and she said she played basketball.”
“It’s a good place for them, and it’s a place for them and for the caregiver, because it gives the caregiver a break,” Mervau said. “When we come here on Wednesdays, that’s the support group day. So the loved ones come here and they get dropped off, and then we can all meet in our group.”
“All paths are different, but in the end, they’re very similar,” Morentin said. “Seeking that support from the support groups has been a Godsend.”
“Most people really don’t understand, unless you live with someone who has dementia,” Mervau said. “Being here with the support group, you just have people that understand, and you can kind of vent out what you can’t say to other people. And that is just really crucial.”
“By the grace of God, I’m getting the support here, and my faith, and then every now and then I’ll get moments of clarity from my mom and she perks up and she’ll say something wonderful to me,” Morentin said. “So that makes it help.”