October 30, 2007 This November the Alzheimer’s Association, the leading resource for Alzheimer’s care, is launching a suite of resources that provide information to ease decision-making, build skills to care for loved ones and keep people living with the disease safe. November is both National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month.
There are currently more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s and almost 10 million people caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. In Illinois, over 200,000 individuals have the disease and twice as many are working hard to care for them.
Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease poses special challenges. Although memory loss is the most widely known symptom, as the disease progresses it also causes confusion, loss of orientation, and frequently, changes in personality and behavior. Individuals with Alzheimer’s require increasing levels of care, supervision and provision for their safety.
The Alzheimer’s Association, already provides a number of programs and services that help people affected by Alzheimer’s at every stage of the disease including a toll-free help line 24/7, 7-days-a-week (800.272.3900), informative web site alz.org, and local services including information and referral, care consultation, peer- and professional-support groups, and educational material resources.
“We know that more than 40 percent of caregivers report high levels of emotional and physical stress,” says Erna Colborn, president and CEO of the Greater Illinois Chapter. Our chapter has numerous programs that support the thousands of caregivers and persons living Alzheimer’s disease in the dozens of counties we serve. These new programs will help us meet their needs even more effectively.”
Safe Return Enhancement: MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®
More than 60 percent of those with Alzheimer’s will wander at some point during the course of the disease, often repeatedly. Wandering can be dangerous even life threatening for the person who wanders and the stress can weigh heavily on caregivers and family. Therefore the Alzheimer’s Association created a marketing alliance with MedicAlert® to create MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®, specifically designed for people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. MedicAlert + Safe Return provides assistance when a person with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia wanders and becomes lost locally or far from home. When someone enrolled in the program wanders, caregivers call a toll-free help line to report it to activate a community support network, including local Alzheimer’s Association Chapters and law enforcement agencies, to help reunite the lost person with his or her caregiver. To date, 99 percent of those registered with Safe Return have been found, however once they are found, wanderers often require medical attention. The new partnership with MedicAlert enables first responders to access the wanderer’s personal health records and quickly treat the individual. For more information on MedicAlert + Safe Return, visit www.alz.org, www.medicalert.org/safereturn or call 1-800-607-2696.
New Resources for Caregivers CareSource
The Alzheimer’s Association is introducing CareSource, a new section on alz.org where caregivers can find useful tools for decision-making and care.
Senior Housing FinderSM
One of the most difficult times for millions of caregivers comes when they can no longer care for their loved one with dementia at home and must find housing. Recognizing the need for a resource to aid these families, the Alzheimer’s Association and SNAPforSeniors® have developed the first national dementia-specific senior housing database, called Alzheimer’s Association Senior Housing Finder. This free, web-based tool allows users to search and screen senior housing options throughout the United States by location, facility name, license type, availability, care services and lifestyle amenities. It even allows users to view the dementia care levels a facility provides, consistent with the seven stages of Alzheimer’s disease progression. The Senior Housing Finder will be available at no cost through alz.org.
In addition to providing people with information on housing options through Senior Housing Finder, alz.org also houses CareFinderTM, which provides detailed information on a variety of issues surrounding care options including: planning ahead, care options, coordinating care and support and resources. CareFinder helps people understand what type of care is appropriate given their needs and preference.
Lotsa Helping Hands
Nearly one in four caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias provide 40 hours a week or more of care. Seventy-one percent sustain this commitment for more than a year, and 32 percent do so for five years or more. The Alzheimer’s Association has added a tool that provides assistance for caregivers and people living with Alzheimer’s. The service, called Lotsa Helping Hands, is a free online service to help take care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s or their caregivers. The service is an easy-to-use, private group calendar, specifically designed for organizing helpers, where everyone can pitch in with meal deliveries, rides and other tasks. Needs are posted on a personalized Web site, where the group calendar is automatically updated. Members sign up to help, which the calendar also tracks automatically. Notification and reminder emails are sent to the appropriate parties.
CareSource will also feature a section with quick links to message boards where people can connect with others in a similar situation. Helpful training videos and DVDs will be available at CareSource as well.
If you have been touched by Alzheimer’s or are a caregiver to someone with the disease, there is help. For more helpful information and resources, visit CareSource at alz.org or call 800-272-3900.
The Alzheimer’s Association
The Alzheimer's Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. Our 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. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. For more information, visit www.alz.org.
About MedicAlert Foundation
MedicAlert Foundation is a leading provider of personal health records with a mission to protect and save lives. Since 1956, we have relayed vital medical information on behalf of our members to emergency responders so that they receive faster and safer treatment. MedicAlert emblems, worn as bracelets or pendants, can alert emergency personnel to a member’s primary health conditions. In addition to our 24-hour emergency response service, we also provide family notification so that our members can be reunited with their families. For more information visit www.medicalert.org.
SNAPforSeniors®, Inc. (www.snapforseniors.com), is a Seattle-based information services company which offers free online database and search tools intended to empower users and make informed decisions about senior housing options. Founded in 2005, SNAPforSeniors provides the most current database of all licensed senior housing in the U.S., as well as a growing number of independent living communities. SNAPforSeniors (which stand for Search New Available Places) licenses its data and search application to leading third party websites such as hospitals, non-profit organizations, and various commercial entities serving seniors and their families. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-206-575-0728.
About Lotsa Helping Hands
Lotsa Helping Hands is a simple, immediate way for friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors to assist loved ones in need. It’s an easy-to-use, private group calendar, specifically designed for organizing helpers, where everyone can pitch in with meals delivery, rides, and other tasks necessary for life to run smoothly during times of medical crisis, end-of-life caring, or family caregiver exhaustion. It’s also a place to keep these ‘circles of community’ informed with status updates, photo galleries, message boards, and more.
Lotsa Helping Hands was created after witnessing four years of awe-inspiring community support and response to a family member's serious medical crisis. Seeing how earnestly friends wanted to help, and juggling the challenge of organizing their assistance, the creators of Lotsa Helping Hands designed the service with an understanding of how to bring together a variety of social circles and what a resulting community like this would need. Special attention was paid to making this caregiving coordination service intuitive enough to begin using immediately.