Offering support to caregivers

By Jacy Glazier

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We hear a lot of stories about people who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s. We know the devastating effects it has on an individual’s mind and body, but what we sometimes don’t hear about are the families behind the disease that are usually taking on the role of caregivers.

Caregivers of those who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s are often overlooked. The extreme care these people provide is not only overwhelming, but can take a toll on their health, as well.

That is why Angie Muhm started the “Dementia Caregiver Support Group” in May,  to help other families that have to deal with the effects of caring for a loved one with the disease.

“It came about as a result of a meeting with the then CEO of Custer  Regional Hospital. At the time, my aunt was in the nursing home, so I went to the meeting and realized there aren’t any services like that in town,” said Muhm.

Muhm has had several family members diagnosed with either Alzheimer’s or dementia and is familiar with the ups and downs that come with being a caregiver.

“You start off not knowing anything about it and watch your loved one change,” said Muhm. “You have no control over the situation and can’t really modify it or change what is happening, which can make you feel completely overwhelmed.”

But Muhm said there is strength in numbers and that is the reason for the support group.

“The whole point of the group is to realize you are not alone. I really love to see people come whose loved one might already be gone, because they can offer so much to people who might just be embarking on the journey. There are different stages that people go through; it doesn’t just start off at one point. There are different stages, variances and experiences among each caregiver,” said Muhm.

The support group meets every second Tuesday of the month at Edward Jones Investments on 6th Street in Custer at 6:30 p.m. Light refreshments are served and the meetings are  open and free to the public.

“We start out just visiting and finding out what’s been going on with everyone. Then I usually have a topic. Last month was caregiver guilt. I introduce some of the information I have and it opens up a discussion,” said Muhm of a typical meeting. “We try to give practical ways to overcome the problems caregivers go through. A lot of discussion goes on, which makes it pretty open.”

Everything is confidential and Muhm is happy to help people who might not be ready for a meeting yet.

“Even if they aren’t comfortable with the group setting or aren’t ready, I have materials and would be glad to reach out and give it to them if they aren’t ready to come to meetings. If people want to contact me and chat over the phone or if they just want information, I’d be happy to visit, because people need to be ready on their own time,” said Muhm.

For more information, contact Muhm at 605-440-0652 or visit the group’s Facebook page at “Dementia Caregiver Support Group (Custer Chapter).”

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