Stacie Ruth Stoelting may only be 25 years old, yet she has the wisdom of one who has lived much longer when it comes to caring for caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients. In her book, Still Holding Hands, Stacie Ruth shares her personal experience as she walked beside her grandmother and grandfather while her grandfather suffered from Alzheimer’s.
Readers see firsthand what it was like for Stacie Ruth’s grandmother, Hilda, as she watched her husband of many decades, Ray, decline in health.
The book offers glimpses into their lives–such as a typical day when life was more “normal” and the loving couple was doing the things that most couples do, like when they were searching for their home. Then we walk with Hilda as Alzheimer’s enters their world and she is forced to take her husband to the bathroom as if he were a toddler again.
Through the trials of the devout Christian couple, many onlookers noticed they often saw Hilda and “Papa Ray” still holding hands.
Country music superstar Randy Travis says, “Stacie Ruth’s story has the simplicity of a young girl, and yet the wisdom and insight of an adult. You become a family member in this touching story, firsthand experiencing their pain– heartbreak, faith and love.”
Stacie Ruth, a nationally recognized vocalist who sang for President George W. Bush and Sarah Palin, shares her personal journey along with 30 ways to care for caregivers in her book. Below are five of her favorites:
Calling – call the caregiver. It doesn’t have to be a long call; just check in on them and let them know you are concerned.
Meals – Stacie recommends that you not worry about home cooking even picking up a fast food meal and dropping off to the caregiver is a big help. Alternatively, you can solicit help from members of the neighborhood and/or church friends to help bring meals. Showing you care can be as simple as a pan of easy bars or cookies.
Pet Visits – If the patient no longer has a pet, but loves animals and has your permission to bring your pet for a visit, there’s nothing like a friendly visit from a furry friend – something both caregivers and patients enjoy.
Give an Hour – caregivers appreciate a break, even for one hour, to take a shower or go for a walk, while you take a turn sitting with the patient.
Pray – “Put the person’s name by your phone, on your refrigerator – somewhere you’ll be reminded often to pray for your friend’s physical and emotional health,” says Stacie Ruth.
The importance of the caregiver role
Karelina Reyes Benevento runs Serving Hearts, a faith-based organization operating in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties that hires and places caregivers with families suffering from Alzheimer’s or cancer or who have children with special needs.
“We want our clients to receive the best care, so we take good care of our caregivers,” she says.
“Their work is invaluable and can be taxing emotionally, mentally and spiritually.”
In addition to ongoing care and support services, Serving Hearts cares for their caregivers on staff by rewarding them with a trip to a cabin in picturesque Colorado for a time of retreat and renewal.
“One challenge for caregivers is that Alzheimer’s patients go through all types of behavior changes. The caregiver witnesses a variety of mood changes, and they can’t take it personally when a patient feels frustrated or angry,” explains Reyes Benevento.
“Caregiving is not a job everyone can do,” she says.
“Serving Hearts is focused on raising the standard of care in the industry. These are very special jobs. You have to find the right people that have that calling in their lives,” explains Reyes Benevento.
Serving Hearts uses technology to help keep families connected.
“We’ve put laptops and webcams in the patients’ homes so they can stay connected with family members that are far away.”
“We use music CDs from the 40s and 50s to trigger fond memories from their past,” she adds.
Serving Hearts caregivers are not only trained in caring for a variety of patient needs, but they are also trained to help minister to the families that are going through a very difficult time.
A song for caregivers
Stacie Ruth has a three-octave range voice – her song, “Second Childhood Children” featured on her CD, “Heavenly” was inspired by watching her grandmother care for her grandfather with Alzheimer’s.
And isn’t that how God loves us
Forever and right now
He’s teaching you to love like Him
And He will show you how
To see the face of Jesus
As you look into the eyes
Of his second childhood children
For whom Christ gave his life
The song was written by Claude Rhea, and was arranged and recorded with Grammy-award winning artists. Stacie Ruth’s sister, Carrie Beth, is also featured on the CD.
For more information, please visit: www.brightlightLife .com or www.servinghearts.net