A woman who knows first-hand about the ravages of the disease Alzheimer’s in on Grand Cayman to offer advice and her book on the subject.
Eva Gerber is an author, counsellor and former caregiver to her mother who had the disease.
She uses this firsthand knowledge of the disease and her profound Christian faith in her new book that is geared toward the caregiver, Journey Through Alzheimer’s – Help, Hope and Encouragement for the Caregiver.
“Caregivers have told me attending an Alzheimer’s support group has been a lifeline for them. It has been critical in their self-care during their time that they’re a caregiver,” Ms Gerber said. “It would be wonderful is someone could start one here in Cayman.”
In the book, she covers medical information while offering emotional encouragement and spiritual support through timely devotionals.
She also discusses diagnosis, treatment, warning signs, the power of personal traits, and the benefits of music therapy as well.
“The most important thing for people to know is that the verbal centre is on one side of the brain and the music centre is on the other,” Ms Gerber said. “Even when patients become non-verbal, they will still sing. And they will sing songs stored in their long-term memory because the long-term memory is the very last to go.”
The singing validates the patient as a person who still has worth, they can participate in activities, and singing is very calming and soothing.
“And research has shown that it increases melatonin in the brain and that helps decrease depression,” she added.
There are two ways to treat patients with Alzheimer’s – medication and behaviour modification like music therapy. And there is no cure for the disease.
That was partly the reason for Ms Gerber’s visit to Grand Cayman – to talk to caregivers and those people who are interested in learning more about the disease and promote her book that helps caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients.
She wrote the book in short, easy-to-read chapters, keeping in mind that the caregiver has limited time to read long, drawn out chapters. She also put in websites that offer more information on Alzheimer’s.
She said that one important idea to always remember when giving care to an Alzheimer’s patient is to never correct them on dates or information.
“In doing that, caregivers think they’ll help regenerate the brain cells, the memory cells, but it won’t. It never will,” she said. “All it does is cause frustration and embarrassment for the patient and frustration for the caregiver.”
It’s very important to validate the thoughts and statements of the patient, she said.
Her book is being sold on island at Hobbies and Books.
Ms Gerber will also be signing her books on from 11am to 2pm Saturday at Hobbies and Books. And she will be giving an Alzheimer’s presentation at 6pm on Sunday at the Church of God Chapel on Walkers Road.