The website for Alzheimers Association, “ALZ,” should be your first stop to learn more about this degenerative disease which affects more than 5 million Americans. Whether you’re looking for some basic information about Alzheimer’s or for someone who can guide you through the initial caregiving phase, you will find assistance here.
Some people assume their physician will offer enough helpful suggestions to get by, but they are usually too busy to give your family the individualized care you deserve. Find a support group, find a friend, find inspiration or find tips. The Association is there to help you and your family to cope during this difficult time.
There are five core services you can get from the Alzheimers Association. The first service is a 24/7 Alzheimers help hotline. In addition to providing you and your family with a host of information on Alzheimer’s disease, the Association can also counsel on elder care, adult day care, trained nursing facilities, lawyers, transportation, financial planning and home care.
One of the most agonizing decisions to make is deciding when the time is right to move an Alzheimer’s patient into a long-term care facility. The Association can help you to find the best care options for your family.
The second service the Association provides is their care consultation. There is someone there to provide supportive listening when the isolation, frustration, depression, fear or grief becomes overwhelming for an Alzheimer’s caregiver.
Many caregivers report that the most difficult thing is the fear of losing the person, coupled with the sad realization that their loved ones can never regain their personalities or full mental capacity. There will be many decisions to be made along the way and obstacles may arise that you don’t know how to deal with, such as what to do when your loved one refuses to bathe or change clothes? So it’s best to call a professional for any questions you may have.
The third service provided by the Association is peer led or professionally led their support groups. Some people shun these services because they don’t want to be seen as someone with a problem; however, the success rate and the manageability are so much higher for people attending these sessions. It sometimes helps to hear others’ stories because you can gain insights on where to take your loved one for care or what pitfalls to avoid.
A fourth service offered by the Association is safety services. Here you can get set up with Medic-Alert and the Alzheimers Association Safe Return. You can be prepared for the wandering Alzheimers patient and any accidents that may happen. The Association connects families with law enforcement agencies to ensure their loved one’s safety for those moments when you can’t be there. The peace of mind is well worth the five minutes it takes to sign up for these valuable services!
The fifth service to get from the Association is probably the most important: education. Whether it’s brochures, audiobooks, DVDs or books, you will find the information you need. You can learn about the signs of Alzheimers, or about getting an Alzheimers diagnosis. You can develop new communication skills and learn about dementia activity programs in your area.
Many people come to the Alzheimers Association website to read about current research and clinical studies. Sometimes what keeps us going in the face of adversity is the hope that new developments are afoot. With so much research dedicated to Alzheimers drugs and treatments, it’s possible that we’ll see huge leaps in the next ten or twenty years.
New studies have found, for example, that Alzheimers is partially caused by tangled up proteins and plaque deposits. As recently as two years ago, it was discovered that Alzheimers could be diagnosed with a skin test. You can also find ways of helping the scientific community through participating in a clinical study, which may also give you some extra money to cover your medical bills.
“The most important thing is to let people know that they are not alone in this fight. There are thousands and thousands of us out there willing to fight with them,” said Cathy Edge, an Alzheimers Association supporter. The best cure for that depressing feeling of helplessness is to get actively involved.
You can donate, volunteer, fundraiser, sponsor, host events, participate in “memory walks,” advocate workplace giving or perform some other valuable Alzheimers help. “Sometimes you just want to sit down and cry.
But I eventually found a way to channel it. The way I channeled it was to start Funding a Difference. I listened to the scientists talk, and I thought, Ok, I’m a part of this – I’m doing something. It takes a little bit of the pain away,” adds donor Darlene Shirley.
Probably one of the most difficult things you’ll every have to do is care for someone with Alzheimers. The reality that the person with Alzheimers is likely very close to you, only makes the task more challenging. Being someone who cares for another human being puts you into a category with a high degree of burnout. It can be a stressful, thankless job. You need to stack the odds in your favor as much as possible.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask
Nobody likes to look clueless, and it’s human nature to be reluctant to ask questions. Now is the time to go against that nature. The medical community, specifically your physician, or the physician of your patient should be your first avenue for help. Be as involved as possible in their care That includes doctor visits, hospital visits, and any therapy, or coping sessions the Alzheimers-afflicted individual attends.
Lean On Me
While arming yourself with as much Alzheimers information as possible is a great strategy, don’t try to be Superman. Having a plethora of information is of no help if you are too exhausted to put it to good use. Medical professionals in the community should be able to point you towards organizations and support groups for caregivers. Potentially even specific to caregivers of Alzheimers patients, depending on the size of the community in which you live.
You’re Already Doing The Right Thing
Messaging and chat rooms are great places to go if you are looking for immediate interaction and feedback from like-minded caregivers. Discussion boards while not quite as real-time interactive, can be better, because they maintain their studies forever. Chat room discussions tend just to disappear.