STAMFORD, Conn. -- The Alzheimer's Association Connecticut Chapter is shining a spotlight on Stamford's Eugene Conrad.
After finding out that his wife has Alzheimer's disease, Conrad sought help and realized there were few male caregivers. After learning more about the disease, Conrad helped establish a men's support group in the area. Conrad got support from the Alzheimer's Association Connecticut Chapter and became a group leader.
The support group allows men to feel comfortable opening up to other men and speak about sensitive subjects. The first group, established in 2010, started with three men. There are now two different groups of seven men each that meet twice monthly.
“It makes a tremendous difference,” Conrad said. “We talk, we share, we even cry. My job is to listen and encourage. The relief that results is therapeutic and energizing. It puts a man back in control, instead of being overwhelmed by new responsibilities and the inevitable changes they must learn to accept in their wives as their Alzheimer’s disease progresses."
Conrad is also writing a book about his experiences.
“This is a growing trend all over the country," he said. "When someone in the group is faced with a really difficult episode, the whole group concentrates on his dilemma. Each man in the group is encouraged to describe what’s happening, with all the details, before any comments or suggestions are made by the others. It’s not necessarily the advice that’s most important; it’s the idea that you’re being listened to, by men who are in the same boat.”
For more information on support groups, residents can contact the Alzheimer's Association 24-hour helpline at 800-272-3900.