Caregiver conference in Prince George's County provides help
Every few minutes, 76-year-old Clifton Douglas asks the same question: "How long are we gonna stay up here?"
Patiently, his wife Gloria answers.
"We live here, this is our home. Don't you remember?" she says.
"No," Clifton says.
Alzheimer's disease is erasing Clifton's memory. And his wife of 37 years, Gloria, can only watch him disappear.
"Sometimes he is defiant and mean,” she says. “That is what is sad.”
Gloria is Clifton's sole caretaker. From her first moments awake until she closes her eyes at night, Gloria's life revolves around her husband's disease.
"[I feel] exhausted, tired,” she says. “And then I sort of go through the day and say, 'was I compassionate enough toward him?'"
She relies on local services for help. At a caregivers conference in Prince George's county, she and hundreds more search for answers.
In 2011 there were more than 270,000 caregivers in Maryland, and as the baby boomer generation slides into older age, that number will continue to grow.
"Sometimes care givers can feel very isolated in their homes. And this gives them the chance to talk to and network and communicate with other caregivers,” says Deborah McBroom, unit manager, Aging Services Division, Prince George's County.
The conference provided motivational speakers and workshops. For Gloria, it offered hope.
“I feel great because now I know that there are resources out there and support out there," she says.
But back at home, the daily struggle continues for Clifton and Gloria. At times the future simply looks
"Very sad. Very sad. Very sad. Very sad,” she says.