April 9, 2012
Psychology professor. Support group organizer. Author. Volunteer. Those are just some of the many hats Dr. Mary Cail wears each day.
Seeing a need in the community, she helped jump-start a support group for people suffering from Alzheimer's and their caregivers.
"It's allowing you to be with people experiencing the same thing you are, but it also enables the person who is suffering from dementia to just come out and have a good time," she explained.
Bert Brown was a caregiver for nearly ten years and knows just how challenging it can be. While the support group helped him make friends, he says it was Dr. Cail who made the largest impact.
"You often feel rather alone, but you can talk with Mary about any particular problem. It won't be new to her and she'll be able to suggest various techniques for dealing with that problem," he said, praising her work.
Although Dr. Cail has worked with may people in Charlottesville, she always wanted to expand her horizons and help people outside of central Virginia. That dream became a reality when her book, The All-Weather Friend's Guide to Alzheimer's Disease: Staying Connected to Loved Ones with Dementia and Their Caregivers, was published earlier this year.
"It really tells what to say and do and how to be supportive in a situation," she said of the book, which is available on Amazon. "Nobody starts out being a fair-weather friend, it's that sometimes we feel awkward and aren't quite sure how to help. This book solves that problem."
In addition to teaching someone how to be a friend to an Alzheimer's patient or caregiver, the book helps in an even more profound way. A portion of the proceeds from all sales will benefit the local chapter of the Alzheimer's Association and programs it supports.
"I'm very glad that that can happen because I wrote the book in order to try and help people who are in this situation. Knowing that it's not just something that someone can read and learn from, that it's also giving to research and programs is great. I'm happy for that," said Dr. Cail.
To read more about the book, click here.