For our Most Loved Health Blogs contest, readers voted for the health bloggers who inspire them to live stronger, healthier lives — and the results are in!
Linda Fisher of Early Onset Alzheimer’s Blog came in 3rd place, and wins $250 to help her in her ongoing mission to increase awareness about Alzheimer’s disease. Read on to learn more about her!
Linda Fisher founded the Early Onset Alzheimer’s Blog in 2008, three years after losing her husband, Jim, to Alzheimer’s disease. In the United States alone, more than 15 million people provide unpaid caregiving to the nearly 5 million people living with Alzheimer’s disease.
Having been a caregiver to her Jim for 10 years — from his diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s at age 49, to his passing — Linda’s life experiences and continued commitment to fighting the disease have made her an invaluable voice in the Alzheimer’s community.
We caught up with Linda to learn more about her continued fight for Alzheimer’s awareness, her volunteer work, and her blog.
Q&A with Linda Fisher
This is your second year making it to the top three of our Most Loved Health Blogs contest! What does it mean to you to have such a supportive reader base?
My readers are enthusiastic about the contest each year and want me to win as much as I do. Most of them voted faithfully each day and reported their vote number on Facebook. More important than the prize money to me is how the Healthline contest has helped my blog reach more people.
What are the most important things you’ve learned about Alzheimer’s over the past year?
Research into a cure is more exciting today than any other time. With increased funding through the National Institutes of Health for Alzheimer’s research, innovative approaches hold the promise of more effective treatment for Alzheimer’s.
Was it difficult at first to be so open about your husband's journey with Alzheimer’s, and your own journey as a caregiver?
As an Alzheimer’s volunteer, I learned the importance of sharing our story to help other caregivers realize they are not alone. The blog allowed me to share our story worldwide, where others could learn from our experiences. Jim’s story is a wakeup call for those who think dementia affects only the elderly. I believe that by sharing his story, Jim has left an indelible mark on the world. People who never met him during his lifetime say that they feel like they know him.
What do you wish more people knew about being an Alzheimer’s caregiver?
Because of my blog, people share their stories, fears, and frustrations with me. I wish more caregivers would contact their Alzheimer’s Association chapter to learn about the available resources for caregivers. I wish more people would become advocates and write their senators or representatives when they learn of legislation that helps address the Alzheimer’s health crisis.
What’s one of your favorite posts on your blog, and why?
One of my favorite posts is “Learn as You Go.” This post is specifically for caregivers and gives a three-step approach to dealing with behaviors. I always thought of caregiving as on-the-job training for a job you didn’t want. As caregivers, we prepare ourselves to handle the big problems, but it’s the “small stuff” that catches us off guard.
Behavior is particularly challenging for a caregiver. Addressing the emotion causing the behavior in a calm, patient, and flexible manner is a better path to coping with disturbing behavior. The post was also a favorite with my readers.
Which other blogs and organizations would you recommend readers connect with to learn more about Alzheimer’s?
The best resource for Alzheimer’s disease is ALZ.org, the official website of the Alzheimer’s Association. This site has always been my go-to site for reliable Alzheimer’s information.
What do you think is missing from the overarching conversation about Alzheimer’s?
Something that isn’t talked about enough is the connection between dementia and being a war veteran with PTSD. A Department of Defense funded study concluded that veterans with PTSD have a two-fold risk of developing dementia. This is of particular interest to me, since Jim was a Vietnam veteran with PTSD, but it also concerns me that PTSD is an ongoing issue with veterans from more recent conflicts.
Follow Linda’s journey and learn more about Alzheimer’s disease on Early Onset Alzheimer’s Blog.