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The Lonnie Ali Interview (Page 1 of 2)

An Interview with Lonnie Ali

AliLonnie Ali is the wife of heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, a Parkinsonís disease caregiver and a tireless national caregiving advocate.  Gary Barg, Editor in Chief, recently sat down for a wide-ranging interview with this champion for family caregivers.

Gary Barg: Itís impossible to talk about Muhammad Ali and not talk about positive thinking. What role do you think attitude plays in the well-being of a caregiver of someone living with Parkinsonís disease?

Lonnie Ali: Itís important for all caregivers to keep a very positive attitude and to realize that this is a disease that can be managed. Itís not something you have to be afraid of; the more you know, the more empowered you become. If you have a positive attitude, you can put things into perspective and actually become a better caregiver. Keeping a positive outlook on things, and trying to convey that to the Parkinsonís patient as well, is extremely important in the management of this illness.

GB: Itís important for your own health and well-being too.

LA: You need to do things so you can keep that positive attitude. You need to go out and socialize and keep some of the routine you had before. Itís important that you realize that youíre not in this fight alone, and that there are others who can help you. Weíre here to help you. You have to call on family members and your support team to come in and assist you.  Itís important that caregivers realize this, because so many caregivers are used to taking care of people by themselves and thinking that they are the only ones experiencing this.

GB: I love your Caregiver Tip Sheet. Itís so very empowering.  So much of your tip sheet explores caring for yourself as job one for any caregiver.

LA: Absolutely. Especially if youíre the primary caregiver, because everything rests on your shoulders. If you fall or get ill, then it affects everything. It affects the person youíre taking care of, it affects you and it affects the family. So you are the lynchpin, and you really have to make sure that you are well cared for and not feel guilty about taking time for yourself. I have a real issue with that. Whenever I have to leave and go do something, or take time and spend it with friends, I feel very guilty about that a lot of the time. I have to talk to myself and say, ďYou really have to have time for yourself.Ē Itís important that other caregivers recognize that as well. And donít let people make you feel guilty for taking time for yourself. You are entitled to it.

GB: One of the tips you offer in your Young-Onset Care Partner Tip Sheet is to get counseling or to attend support group sessions. Why do you think support groups are so important to family caregivers?

 

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