Photo by WJFW Newswatch 12
Alzheimer's support group for caregivers
Story By Lilly Zoller
Local News Published 11/21/2021 3:14PM, Last Updated 11/22/2021 9:32AM
Rhinelander - "My husband had Alzheimer's," said Kay Hasal, a supporter in the Alzheimer's Support Group.
Hasal says she was frightened when the diagnosis came down.
"I took care of him by myself for a couple of years and then realized I couldn't do it anymore. I needed to talk to somebody that understood what I was going through."
That's where the Alzheimer's Support Group came in.
"It's for caregivers, for people that are taking care of significant others, parents that have Alzheimer's," said Diane VanLandingham, the facilitator of the Alzheimer's Support Group.
Alzheimer's is a disease that affects more than 6 million Americans.
"You lose your loved one twice," said Hasal. "You lose them when they lose their memory of you, and then you lose them when they pass away."
The group gives people like Hasal a chance to talk about experiences like that one.
"One of the hardest things for me during the whole process was the first time my husband looked at me and didn't know who I was," she said.
They also support one another.
"It's very helpful to know that there are people there that understand what you're going through," said Hasal.
And, they share stories.
"The one thing that I vowed to do the day that my husband was diagnosed was that I was going to make him laugh every day," said Hasal. "And I did. Every day I did something. Sometimes it was really stupid, you know? I'd do a silly dance or something just to make him laugh."
A group like this is all the more important in times like today when the pandemic has us feeling further apart than ever before.
"When someone that you know has Alzheimer's, it's a very isolating disease, so you don't know how to tell people or talk to people and people kind of drift away, so this is a place where they can come and be safe and talk if they want or not talk and just be around a group of people that are very familiar with the disease," said VanLandingham.
The group hopes to support everyone facing this tragic condition.
"What they're going through isn't unusual or rare, that it happens and it's going to happen," said Hasal.