Ever wish there was a one-stop shop you could go to for all the Alzheimer's caregiving information and advice you need? Well, there is one -- Alz.org, the website of the Alzheimer's Association.
Need information and advice about wandering? Agitation? Hallucinations? Incontinence? Go to Alz.org. Need help finding an assisted living facility in your community? Yes. Go to Alz.org. Would you like to enroll your loved on in a clinical trial? Alz.org has an online feature to help you find one.
The Vision of the Alzheimer's Association is "A world without Alzheimer's." Its mission is "To eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health." According to the website, the Alzheimer's Association, formed in 1980, is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.
The Association has a 24/7 Helpline staffed by highly-trained information specialists who are backed up by Care Consultants -- Master's level social work counselors. They can answer questions, help you process your feelings, assist in problem solving and, when needed, link you to resources in your local Alzheimer's Association chapter. You can call as often as you need to. Just dial 1-800-272-3900.
The organization's remarkable website has separate sections for people who have Alzheimer's, caregivers, physicians, researchers, caregiving professionals, other professionals and kids and teens. In this article I will focus on the resources for Alzheimer's caregivers. That section is voluminous so reviewing all topics covered is beyond the scope of this article. I will merely touch on the highlights.
To access the caregiver resources, click on "Life with Alzheimer's" at the top of the page and then click on "Caregiver Center." There you'll find the following major links: Daily Care, Stages and Behaviors, Get Support, Safety, Care Options, and Financial and Legal Planning. To get an idea of the breadth and depth of information provided, click on each one of these and take a look at the sub-links and their sub-links.
For example, "Daily Care" has sections on Behaviors, Communication, Activities, Respite Care, Memory Loss, Personal Care and Medical Care. Click on these titles to see what is included in each. Under Personal Care you'll find information and advice about issues such as Incontinence, Bathing, Dressing, Grooming, and Dental Care, just to name a few.
Under "Get Support" you'll find sub-sections on Finding Your Local Chapter, Message Boards, Support Groups, Your Health, and Care Training. There are Message Boards for Caregivers, Spouses' or Partners' Caregivers and Younger-Onset Alzheimer's Disease or other dementias. The section on Support Groups includes information on how to find one locally. There are also online Support Groups operated by the Association.
If you click on "Planning for the Future" you'll see topics such as Legal Matters, Care Options, Pay for Care, Safety, Dementia and Driving, as well as detailed explanations of Medicare, Medicare Part D, Medicaid, Insurance, and other related issues. Many of these can be of help for any seniors - not just those who are Alzheimer's caregivers.
The section for "Kids and Teens" is especially helpful for families having young people affected by the Alzheimer's disease of a grandparent or other close elderly person. It includes introductory information, videos, an explanation of how Alzheimer's affects the brain, and stories for different age groups.
There is also an impressive list of 101 activities kids and teens can do with a person who has Alzheimer's. In addition, there are resources for parents, including advice on how to talk to children and teens about Alzheimer's disease. Finally there is a link to purchase Maria Shriver's book, "What's Happening to Grandpa?"
The Community Resource Finder section can help you find local resources, including your local Alzheimer's Association chapter, various types of facilities, geriatric care managers, day care programs, elder law attorneys, home care professionals, support groups, hospices and transportation.
I have studied this site in detail and cannot think of a single important topic not covered. So go check it out. I'm sure you'll find information and/or advice about what you need to be a better and healthier caregiver.
Marie Marley is the award-winning author of the uplifting book, Come Back Early Today: A Memoir of Love, Alzheimer's and Joy. Her website, ComeBackEarlyToday.com, contains a wealth of information for Alzheimer's caregivers.