Nicole Wolfrath

Q&A with Online Support Group Participant

August 14, 2020
Nicole Wolfrath

Why did you join our Online Support Group Program?

I wasn’t ready to say that I needed support, but I knew I did. I needed something convenient as a working mom and caregiver and the ability to get help virtually was something I wanted to try.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your loved one.

My father was diagnosed when my oldest daughter was two years old.  I watched him steadily decline through that time which brought my family together while simultaneously ripping us apart over the course of eight years.  Five years ago, my parents sold their home and moved into a two-family house with me, my husband and then, two young daughters.  To say it was a daily struggle with caregiving as well as navigating the emotional web is an understatement.

How did you hear about our Online Support Groups? What inspired you to sign up for the program?

I found out about HFC when I happened to catch Seth Rogen speaking to Congress on the TV that was in the lobby at work.  The first thing that struck me was that he and his wife are my age.  Prior to that moment, I felt so alone and isolated seeking and getting help from those that were twenty years older than me.  From those whose parents were well into their 80s and 90s.  No one was going through what I was physically or emotionally.  No one was trying to navigate playdates while making sure my dad was being cared for or making sure my own apartment, as well as my parents’, was completely baby-proofed for different reasons.

I started following HFC through social media and signed up for the online support groups. Someone from HFC reached out to me and I was so overwhelmed at the time I didn’t join.  I felt I had no time to even care for myself.  A few months later, when I had to make the tough decision to put my dad in a facility. HFC sent out another email asking if I was interested in joining.  A busy working mother I couldn’t imagine finding an hour at night to devote to this but my husband promised we would make it work,  I was then contacted by Janie Gruman who chatted with me about my dad, my experience, and what I wanted to accomplish. What happened next I can only equate to the universe doing its jobs to point me in the direction that would change everything. 

What was your experience in the program like?

Our group formed and I met the most wonderful people who were not only children of a parent with Alzheimer’s, but around my age, some with children, and some with a parent recently in a facility.  Through our weekly and then bi-weekly conversations, we reached places I never thought I would get to that helped me cope and heal.  We started a group text outside of the scheduled session to support one another and even sent each other holiday cards and gifts when we needed it.  We are all in different areas of the nation, with even one member in Canada. I was the first person in the group to lose a parent and that particular session I will never forget.  My group members were all crying while I felt oddly free.  But what I have learned in the 6 months since my father passed, is that my journey is not over.  I am still healing and in turn, helping to heal others.

How did the HFC Online Support impact your life?

My support group saved my life. I was drowning in the emotional weight of caregiving. The people I met have become very close to me and have helped me survive losing my father and helped me rebuild my life. I was able to reflect not only on how to be a better caregiver, but how to take care of myself, my family, and get to a place where I could actually grieve my dad while he was alive and slipping away before my eyes. The loneliness of having someone leave you from Alzheimer’s is so unique and heavy. I was able to be a better person the last year of my father’s life because of this group which also gave me the strength I needed to get through the last difficult phases of this disease.

Complete the sentence, “Without HFC’s support….”

I would have lost myself under the emotional weight of caregiving.

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