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The Alzheimers Association Is Here To Help

Jun 2, 2008
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 Alzheimers 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 Alzheimers disease, the Association can also counsel on eldercare, 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 Alzheimers 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 Alzheimers 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 professional 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 instance, 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, fundraise, 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 finally 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.
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