When her mother was diagnosed with dementia in November 2014, San Diegan Susan Bos said she felt alone.
“I was 29 at the time and I didn’t know anybody whose parents had Alzheimer’s or dementia,” said Bos, who has served as her mother’s caregiver for more than six years. “I felt very isolated and alone. I became someone completely different — literally, I changed down to a chemical level.”
Today, Bos said she hopes to help other caregivers on their journey, especially during COVID-19.
Bos, who serves as a support group leader for the San Diego/Imperial Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, is now the podcast host for the nonprofit’s show, “Experiences in Caregiving: Personal Stories of Support for Caregivers Dealing with Alzheimer’s.” The bi-monthly podcast aims to provide support to caregivers as they face challenges caring for their loved ones.
The Alzheimer’s Association currently serves an estimated 180,000 people in San Diego and Imperial counties, who serve as unpaid caregivers to their loved ones with Alzheimer’s or other dementia.
Bos said the newly launched podcast mimics a support group with her and three others talking about a specific issue in each episode. Every guest is a caregiver to a loved one, she said.
“I hope (listeners) feel camaraderie when they hear it — to feel a connection to other people,” Bos said. “Caregivers hide in the shadows. I hope this is a place where they seek out support and where we can normalize the need for support. They deserve to have their stories told.”
Katie Croskrey, executive director of the local Alzheimer’s Association, said it’s common for caregivers to neglect their own health when caring for others. The problem has become a bigger concern with COVID-19, she said.
“Caregivers have been thrusted into situations they weren’t ready for,” said Croskey, who also serves as a caregiver to her mother. “The thing we’re always concerned about is caregivers not taking care of themselves. With the added stress of the pandemic, the stress has been heightened.”
Croskrey and Bos both said the podcast will give the nonprofit the opportunity to reach more people who may be struggling as a caregiver.
Fresh topics are introduced in each podcast, with subjects as varied as “The First Diagnosis & Becoming a Caregiver,” “Caregiving During Covid,” The Effect of Music on Caregiving & Alzheimer’s” and “Family/Sibling Issues with Caregiving.”
Listeners are also welcomed to suggest topics for future podcasts.
“We touch on very emotional, intimate issues,” Bos said. “When you’re thrown into the trenches and making difficult decisions, you need support to ease your fears. It’s a kind of love you never know you need until you’re there. Having a support group is a gamechanger. I hope that this podcast serves as a landing place for caregivers. I hope they will feel less alone.”
“Experiences in Caregiving” can be found on a number of platforms including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify.
For more information about the San Diego/Imperial Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, go to alz.org/sandiego.