As the chief of operations for the Alzheimer’s & Dementia Resource Center, Edith Gendron spins many plates. While she provides services for the center’s primary clientele, which is the at-home caregiver, she also works to develop programs with the State of Florida Brain Bank Research Study and collaborate with other community entities.
ADRC’s mission is to be a resource for caregivers as they face one of the toughest jobs they will ever have. This includes offering support groups, single-topic workshops and six-week, evidence-based training to give caregivers the tools they need to help them control what’s going on in their world.
“We view it as being out of control, and it is, but there are a lot of things in our environment that are within our control,” Gendron says. “We give them the tools they need to be more confident, peaceful and to seek joy in this journey. There is joy here, it’s just a different perspective to seek it out.”
ADRC not only teaches caregivers to be more confident in their skills but also provides a greater understanding of the illness. Showing a caregiver how to mitigate the severity of symptoms through music, awareness of nutrition and the way that they communication with their loved one can change their whole situation for the better. Gendron guides them through learning each piece of the puzzle, and when she sees them have a breakthrough, it makes it all worthwhile.
“You shed tears almost every day,” she says. “Even me, who truly thinks that there’s some how a greater message that we’re still not getting with these diseases. I can just be reduced to a sobbing mess watching what happens to someone.”
Gendron says she counter balances that with the fact that she’s working with a magnificent person who has contributed so much to the community. It’s important for her and for the caregivers she works with to look for new meaning and a new perspective as the illness progresses.
She shares the story of a man living with the illness who helped to boost her confidence when she was feeling uncomfortable. As Gendron prepared for someone to take her photo, she expressed how horrible she thought she looked. The man stopped her, put up his hand and told her she looked just fine.
“That’s the beauty,” she says. “In my distress, someone with an illness that’s supposed to take them away saw my distress and did something about it. He gave me a gift. That’s what I try hard to give our caregivers.”
If you’re in need of assistance or support, consider these free caregiver workshops presented by the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resource Center.
May 10 – June 14
Savvy Caregiver Series
10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
When Words Don’t Work
One Senior Place
715 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714
For more information and to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ADRCCares.org