I am the daughter of a woman who had vascular dementia. My Mom lived through this disease for seven years following three strokes and died in 1978. I was a naïve, long distance caregiver who knew nothing about the disease process. My Dad was not well and had multiple medical problems. As an only child, so much rested on my shoulders and that was tough because we were living 10 hours away from my parents. My husband and I had two young children at the time and I wasn’t in a position to travel home to assist either my Mom or my Dad on a regular basis.
My Mom’s situation deteriorated dramatically. She had been a vibrant, active member of our community. Previously she was a teacher and an administrative assistant to the mayor in our hometown. As the effects of the disease took away the Mom I knew, I was puzzled, frustrated, felt helpless and totally overwhelmed as to what to do to help her situation or my Dad’s. Caring for my Mom and Dad has assisted me in understanding, first hand, what caregivers experience. There are many stressors that caregivers face and having cared for my parents prepared me for the role I now have in assisting other families through the Alzheimer’s/dementia journey. At a later point in time I was a full-time caregiver for my father and my father-in-law as well, who had COPD. My husband had MCI – Mild Cognitive Impairment – and died in 2016 from a TBI – Traumatic Brain Injury.
In the late 1980’s I became the Director of Education for the Alzheimer’s Association of Central New York. I was responsible for developing and implementing educational programming for family caregivers and professionals. A number of years later, while living in Grosse Point, MI, I was the director of an adult day care program for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Our program provided a safe haven for patients whose families were caught in the “sandwich generation”… that is, taking care of parents and children at the same time. From 2007-2013 I was the Senior Director of 10 assisted living communities for Benchmark Senior Living working throughout RI, MA and CT. These communities provide residential care for men and women with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. I worked closely with residents, their family members and professional staff.
I recently (March, 2019) relocated to the greater Pittsburgh, PA area. I am continuing my specialized work in the dementia field with great enthusiasm and excitement.
My vision for this site is to provide you with a professional perspective of caring for individuals in your life who are experiencing Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia. There are many sites available that are written by family members who want to share their stories. Certainly the national and regional Alzheimer’s Associations have very informative websites, brochures, training programs and current referral sources. You should avail yourself of their wonderful services too.
The suggestions and perceptions I hope to share are “tools of the trade” that are used on a daily basis by professionals. I want to share insights…understandings…helpful hints regarding behaviors…and suggestions that will make your life easier. As a professional in the field, there are many things we take for granted in our daily routines that are completely foreign to a new caregiver. I want you to know that you are not alone and there are people who can help you through this unfortunate, but frustrating and confusing journey.
I hope I will hear from many of you who have questions specific to your situation or comments. Please don’t hesitate to ask what might seem like a “stupid” or “frivolous” question. You learn by asking questions…the important thing is how you put new information into play in your daily lives to benefit your loved one and bring understanding to your own life.
I am committed to assisting caregivers – family members and professionals – in understanding what is happening during the disease process so we can all better understand how to communicate and care for individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or another variety of dementia. (March, 2014)
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As of today, October 9, 2017, I have been assisting families and professionals through my consulting business for 3.5 years. I am proud to say that in that time frame, I have personally (face to face) educated/trained 4,791 individuals which includes family and professional caregivers, as well as interested community residents. During the month of September, 2017, people in 21 different countries around the world viewed this website. (The highest viewership was 67 countries in one month.) And my FaceBook page DCPutnam Consulting has registered more than 135,000 hits. It pleases me to know that people throughout the world who are dealing with Alzheimer’s disease or one of the other forms of dementia, have found the information I have shared to be helpful. Thank you for viewing my website and I would encourage you to share this site with others who are struggling to care for their loved one’s.
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Today is July 4, 2018. As we celebrate our freedom and independence today, it reminds me that I have been blessed to be able to assist so many family caregivers in this difficult filed. Family caregivers begin their journey in fear, apprehension and an intense sense of helplessness. Through the support groups I facilitate and the community education programs I provide, I see caregivers facial expressions and body language change from doubt and panic to clarity and understanding. What they learn through these educational settings does not change their circumstances. But what these programs provide is knowledge, understanding and a way for them to learn how to manage their loved one with Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia with more patience and compassion.
Professional caregivers in all manner of health related settings, are so thankful for the new learnings and understandings they acquire. They comment regularly that they have more patience, compassion and can better understand what the patients are experiencing.
As of today:
183,871 hits on my FaceBook page
Trained / Educated ~ 5,885 family and professional caregivers and community members
People in 13 countries around the world have viewed my website this month
It’s been an amazing 4.5 years since I started my consulting business. Thank you to all who I have connected with during this time frame.