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Apr 2013
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Alzheimer's Association Offers CEUs for Professionals

Social workers and healthcare facility administrators interested in earning continuing education units are encouraged to join families at the Alzheimer’s Association Spring Caregiver Conferences on May 16 in Fort Wayne and on May 17 in Indianapolis. Certificates of attendance are available for other health professionals.

These conferences promise to give new insight to caregivers as our keynote speaker, Lisa Snyder, presents “What It’s Like To Have Alzheimer’s – Understanding Common Feelings and Experiences.” This session will provide local caregivers a unique opportunity to learn from a pioneer in the Alzheimer’s field.

Lisa Snyder is a clinical social worker and the Director of the Quality of Life Programs for the Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the University of California, San Diego where she has worked with people with Alzheimer’s and their families since 1987. She was a pioneer in developing support groups for persons with early-stage dementia and is internationally recognized for her work in raising awareness about their thoughts, feelings and daily experiences.

Ms. Snyder is author of the books “Speaking Our Minds – What it’s Like to Have Alzheimer’s” and “Living Your Best with Early-Stage Alzheimer’s.”

In addition to attending the conference sessions, attendees will have a chance to visit exhibitors to learn about local services that may assist them as they care for someone with Alzheimer’s.

Social workers and healthcare facility administrators will receive four CEUs. For additional conference details and to register, please call the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900.

One day. 16 hours. Millions of reasons.

For most of us, time passes all too quickly. Minutes, hours, days fly by in a flash — with little opportunity to slow down and savor the moment. On Friday, June 21, the Alzheimer’s Association invites you to join us and take one day to make a difference.

One day to send a message: I will not give up. I will not back down. I will defeat Alzheimer’s. One day to tell those facing the disease: You are not alone.

The Longest Day® 2013, a sunrise-to-sunset event to honor the strength, passion and endurance of those living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Together with your team, spend the longest day of the year doing what you love to help end Alzheimer’s.

You can swim, run, ride or walk. Organize a tennis, soccer, basketball or volleyball tournament. Are you an art aficionado? Plan a day of painting and pottery. A real card shark? Host a poker or bridge game. Gather friends and family from your town, across the country or around the world and spend the day making a difference.

For each hour of participation, we ask that you raise $100 for the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. In total, your team should raise a minimum of $1,600 for the approximate 16 hours you’re active on The Longest Day. Our coaching staff are ready to assist you with tips and best practices to ensure you reach your goal.

For people facing Alzheimer’s disease, this challenge is every day. For you, it’s just one.

Going the Distance

Caring for an Alzheimer's patient is no joke. It's tiring, complicated, time consuming, joyful, and an distance. At the end of the day, through shared love and pain, it's brought them closer.

Molly lives in the same town as their mother (who is divorced and been living with Alzheimer's for almost a decade) and has taken the leading caregiver role. Morgan lives in North Carolina, performing a different type of supporting role from almost 700 miles away.

Molly, The Local Caregiver

Saying that my mother having Alzheimer's is a challenge is an understatement. It is a struggle every single day. Not most days, but every single day. At this advanced stage, she lives in a “locked-down” facility, so a lot of the everyday tasks (getting her dressed, making sure she gets her medicine, cleaning her, feeding her, etc.) are taken care of by the wonderful staff. Morgan and I are blessed that we found a nice facility with loving staff members. They do a great job of keeping me informed of how she is doing and what she needs. “Not so bad,” you might think, “The caregivers in the family are mostly off the hook, right?” Wrong.

There is the “taking care of her affairs,” and then there is the ever-changing one-on-one relationship that I have with my mom. They may seem easy to differentiate, but in fact they aren't. The two criss-cross like a spider's web, and tug at your emotions even more.

I visit my mom about twice a week. I walk with her, comfort her when she gets sad, even dance with her on occasion. These visits are mainly confined to the facility. If she is taken outside for too long, she starts to get over-stimulated by the day-to-day activities that most people find normal.

When my mom lived in Assisted Living, my role as a caregiver was very different. I had to do her grocery shopping, and make and take her to all of her appointments. I had to constantly check her supplies to make sure she had enough of things. Just what you'd expect, right? And then there were the emotional expectations. I am still not sure if I put these expectations on myself, or if she put them on me. Maybe it was both of us. At this time, when she was much more lucid, she knew how many times a week I came and saw her. She knew if I hadn't called to check in. She knew if her memories were slipping away. And with that little bit of awareness came a great deal of guilt.

Continue reading...

Morgan, The Long-Distance Caregiver

Long-distance relationships: they are never easy. You probably have loved ones—partners, parents, siblings, cousins, etc.—in other parts of the country or world. You don't see each other much, but at least you have letters or e-mail, the phone, even video chat. You work hard to keep in touch as best you can, even if there are inevitable gaps of time in between. But what if you didn't have those technological crutches? What would your relationship be like? How would you communicate, nurture, and maintain that relationship if you couldn't write, see, or speak to someone?

Living across the country, it's been an increasingly difficult and creative process to keep in contact with and support my mom. I have two young children, a busy life, and a limited budget; flying or driving out to see her is a twice yearly thing, if I'm lucky. As her dementia got worse, so did our long-distance relationship.

When my mom's dementia first started to show itself, her ability to communicate deteriorated first. She had trouble reading, and then speaking. Soon e-mails or letters became impossible. Speaking on the phone was a challenge, a game of audible charades. She'd forget a simple word, and I'd chime in with, “does it fly? What color is it? Is it an animal, vegetable, or mineral?”, and the vocabulary guessing game would commence. Most days, my mom had a sense of humor about it, and we'd laugh and feel grateful to hear each other's loving voices. Other times, she'd break down in tears out of frustration, and I'd listen helplessly on the other side of the phone, hundreds of miles away. No way to hug her, stroke her back, and show her how much I love her. Just soothing words (I hoped), of “I love you,” and “I know it's frustrating, but I can't wait to see you soon.” Then I'd hang up the phone and burst into tears myself, frustrated that I couldn't help, that I was so far away that even a simple phone conversation was an epic fail.

Eventually, Mom lost her ability to make or receive calls, check voicemail, maintain a phone conversation (don't even get me started with our attempts at FaceTime), or even recognize what a phone is. Making a conscious decision to stop calling her was devastating for me. With all of the complications related to her declining health, phone conversations became quite painful for both of us, and she wouldn't even remember that I had called within minutes of hanging up.

Continue reading...

Morgan Ford is married and the mother of two young children. She lives in North Carolina and helps her sister, Molly Godby, care for her mother, who lives in Zionsville, Indiana. Molly is a stay-at-home mother of two. In 2007, their mother, Lee, was diagnosed with dementia with probable onset of Alzheimer's. Molly has a personal blog that you can read at www.abundantlyawesome.blogspot.com.

Alarming new Alzheimer's Statistics


According to the 2013 Alzheimer's Disease Facts & Figures report, one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia in the United States. The new report shows that while deaths from other major diseases, such as heart disease, HIV/AIDS and stroke, continue to experience significant declines, Alzheimer’s deaths continue to rise – increasing 68 percent from 2000-2010.

“Indiana is home to more than 120,000 people living with Alzheimer’s disease. With deaths from this disease continuing to rise, it is clear that urgent, meaningful action is necessary,” Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter Executive Director, Heather Hershberger said. “Our community needs to come together to fight against this disease, particularly as more and more people age into greater risk for developing a disease that today has no cure.”

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and is the only leading cause of death without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression. By 2025, the number of people 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to reach 7.1 million. In 2012, there were more than 15 million caregivers who provided more than 17 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $216 billion. In Indiana, that translates to 328,000 caregivers providing 373 million hours of unpaid care valued at $4,604 million.

Alzheimer's disease is affecting more of our friends and family every day. Learn more. Your free download of the report is available now.


 

Alzheimer's Association

Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.