(left) Bill Riemer joins his mother-in-law Kathy Hamilton for the Walk to End Alzheimer's
Support groups are something of great importance for individuals living and caring for loves ones with Alzheimer’s disease. They provide members with much needed information and personal connections so that the emotionally taxing progression of Alzheimer’s disease can become a little less difficult. For Kathy Hamilton, the Oconomowoc support group has become much more than a few meetings.
Kathy began noticing changes in her husband Lee’s behavior six years ago. Because Kathy’s mother had Alzheimer’s disease earlier and she had attended another support group with her father, Kathy knew what to look for and caught it early. In search of support and knowledge, Kathy joined the Oconomowoc “Caregivers Support Group” one year ago. Since then, Kathy has found the Oconomowoc meetings to be much more beneficial than she had imagined.
The Oconomowoc support group is one of the most active in the Southeastern Wisconsin area. With group lunches, Christmas get-togethers, and phone and e-mail sharing for help anytime, the Oconomowoc support group has also become one of the largest in the area. When asked about why she returns month after month, Kathy said “definitely the information, the friendships I’ve gained, and the uplift of being among others who can understand what you are going through.” Kathy also said that the most important benefit for her has been “the feeling that you’re not out there alone, there’s others there that you can share with, it’s a warm fuzzy feeling.” There’s no question about whether the process of Alzheimer’s is a difficult one, and support groups can provide connections with others who can relate.
Kathy is planning on continuing her involvement in the Oconomowoc support group and said “I would miss it terribly if I couldn’t go.” The Oconomowoc caregivers have created something much more than a way to exchange information about the disease; they’ve bonded and have become an important part of each others lives. She is also planning on attending the Waukesha Walk to End Alzheimer’s with her son-in-law, Bill Riemer, this Saturday, September 14th in Frame Park.
Kathy is just one example of an individual whose life has been improved from attending one of the many support groups offered by the Alzheimer’s Association. Kathy urges everyone to get involved and support in any way, as everyone is touched by Alzheimer’s one way or another.