ALZ Media Insider is an exclusive email for news media to assist with story ideas, resources, statistics and spokespersons related to the United States' 6th leading cause of death.
Headlines in this issue:
According to a recent Alzheimer’s Association survey, people overwhelmingly agree (91 percent) that caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia should be a group effort among family or close friends, yet one out of three caregivers (39 percent) are not engaging others in caregiving tasks. A whopping 84 percent of caregivers said they would like more support, especially from members, in providing care for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
Providing help and support to caregivers can be easier than most people think. Even little acts can make a big difference. The Alzheimer’s Association offers these suggestions:
Learn: Educate yourself about Alzheimer’s disease – its symptoms, its progression and the common challenges facing caregivers. The more you know, the easier it will be to find ways to help.
Build a Team: Organize family and friends who want to help with caregiving. The Alzheimer's Association Care Team Calendar is a free, personalized online tool that allows helpers to sign up for specific tasks, such as preparing meals, providing rides or running errands.
Give a Break: Spend time with the person with dementia, allowing the caregiver a chance to run errands, go to their own doctor’s appointment or engage in an activity that helps them recharge. Even one hour could make a big difference in providing the caregiver some relief.
Check In: Many caregivers report feeling isolated or alone; make a phone call to check in, send a note, or stop by for a visit.
Tackle the To-Do List: Ask for a list of errands that need to be done. Pick up groceries, dry cleaning or even offer to shuttle kids to and from activities.
Be Specific and Be Flexible: Open-ended offers of support (“call me if you need anything” or “let me know if I can help”) may be well-intended, but are often dismissed. Be specific in your offer (“I’m going to the store, what do you need?”). Continue to let the caregiver know that you are there and ready to help.
Help for the Holidays: Help caregivers around the holidays by offering to help with cooking, cleaning or gift shopping. If a caregiver has traditionally hosted family celebrations, offer your home instead.
Join the Fight: Honor a person living with the disease and their caregiver by supporting the Alzheimer’s cause. Volunteer at your local Alzheimer’s Association office or participate in fundraising events.
Editor’s Note: November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month. The Alzheimer’s Association has consumer-friendly resources to assist media covering these events.
More information and resources:
- Expert Interview: Ruth Drew, Director of Information and Support Services, Alzheimer's Association..
In conjunction with National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, the Alzheimer’s Association is unveiling the “Pure Imagination Project,” a campaign encouraging people to learn more about the disease while supporting current efforts to end Alzheimer’s.
The video features actor Gene Wilder in his iconic role as Willy Wonka. It recreates the famous Pure Imagination scene from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, but reinterprets the magical, candy-filled world with sweets disappearing piece by piece, much like the impact that Alzheimer’s has on 5 million Americans across the country.
The Pure Imagination Project is made possible through support from the Gene Wilder estate. The actor died from Alzheimer’s in 2016. The project was developed pro bono by MullenLowe with visual effects by Significant Others. Additional supporters include Warner Brothers and Universal Music.
“Alzheimer’s disease is a brutal and unforgiving enemy that can rob a person of his self-expression, the ability to walk, to read, to write and to find joy in the world. Simply, the person loses himself,” said Karen B. Wilder. “When I saw this campaign, I knew that it brilliantly and beautifully captured all that Alzheimer’s can take away, and my hope is that it will motivate people to learn more and to seek to change the course of this disease for future generations.”
- Gene's widow Karen
Holiday celebrations are often joyous occasions that families look forward to all year, but they can be challenging for the millions of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Jim Gulley, 67, from Penfield, NY, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2015 and is adjusting his holiday plans to make life easier for he and his family.
“We were planning to attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, but decided against it,” Gulley said. “There are just too many people and too much stimuli, which can be challenging for someone living with Alzheimer’s.”
Gulley says he is also cutting down on holiday travel and reducing the active role he enjoys at his local church, where he often lectors and leads bible study.
“It’s great to see all my friends and loved ones during the holidays, but it can also impose a lot of physical and mental stress,” he says. “With Alzheimer’s, I can enjoy the holidays more, by doing a little less.”
The Alzheimer’s Association offers these additional tips for families affected by Alzheimer’s:
- Plan ahead: When attending a holiday party, prepare the host for special needs, such as a quiet room for the person to rest when they get tired, away from the noise and distractions.
- Involve the person with Alzheimer’s: Depending on abilities and preferences, make sure to keep the person with Alzheimer’s involved in the celebrations, such as packing cookies in tins or helping wrap gifts.
- Prepare families and friends: The holidays are full of emotions, so let guests know what to expect before they arrive and tell them how they can help. For example, what activities can they do with the person with Alzheimer’s or how best to communicate with them. “Cross talk” or multiple conversations can be challenging for people living with Alzheimer’s – try engaging them in individual conversation.
- Adapt holiday traditions: Take time to experiment with new traditions that might be less stressful or a better fit with your caregiving responsibilities. For example, if evening confusion and agitation are a problem, turn your holiday dinner into a holiday lunch or brunch.
- Adjust gift giving: Diminishing capacity may make some gifts unusable or even dangerous to a person with dementia. If someone asks for gift ideas, suggest items people living with the disease can easily enjoy, such as comfortable clothing, favorite music, videos and photo albums.
More holiday tips can be found by visiting ALZ.org.
- Expert Interview: Monica Moreno, Senior Director, Care and Support, Alzheimer's Association.
- Jim Gulley, 67, and other individuals living with early-stage Alzheimer’s. (Read Jim’s Story here.)
Media phone line: 312-335-4078