September Is World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month
World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, http://www.alz.org/braintour/alzheimers_changes.asp, takes on a special significance for millions of Americans, including CAREGiversSM from Home Instead Senior Care® of Beaverton who are on the front lines every day with seniors who need help because of the disease’s debilitating effects. While Alzheimer’s is associated with memory loss and dementia, it impacts all aspects of life. “One of my clients is in the early stages of dementia, which can be challenging because I’m never sure which mood she’ll be in,” said a CAREGiver who earned a degree in biopsychology and neuroscience from a major American university and is waiting to get into medical school. “I also covered a shift for a client who was in her later stages of dementia and was extremely challenging because she couldn’t verbally express her needs. I was forced to do the best I could to make her comfortable as well as find an alternative method to communicate with her.” The CAREGiver would not disagree that the Alzheimer’s numbers are stark:
- Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.
- An estimated 35.6 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease.
- More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease.
- One in three people over the age of 85 has dementia.
- Worldwide, a person develops Alzheimer’s every four seconds.
- Deaths from Alzheimer’s increased 68 percent between 2000 and 2010; deaths from all other major diseases (heart disease, stroke, prostate cancer, breast cancer, HIV) decreased.
The World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month campaign was designated to help increase awareness about the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and its social and economic impact. “Working on research for dementia is a big sociological issue,” the CAREGiver said. “When society puts more emphasis on it, more people will donate the needed money to research the causes and solutions. We as a society need to make it a priority. We need to find something that will slow the process of brain deterioration.” With respect to her work with Home Instead Senior Care of Beaverton, the CAREGiver draws on the knowledge she received from one of her key college classes, “Aging and Cognition.” “The class material started from the basis of examination from birth how our brains function. One thought process is that the brain deteriorates as you get older,” the CAREGiver said. “I understand that those who have dementia have no control over what they do. Patience is most important, and I don’t take anything personally. Following routines is also important. “When something gets stressful http://www.helpforalzheimersfamilies.com/dementia-support-network/aggression-anger/overview-aggression-and-anger/ for one of my clients who is in the later stages of dementia, I walk away from the situation, stay nearby out of sight and then come back in a couple of minutes. It is like hitting reset. You have to let her have her space, but yet be close enough to make sure she is safe. We get through everything OK.”
When asked about the prospects of a cure or medication that would prevent dementia, based on what she had studied, the CAREGiver said: “I am not sure about any cure being on the horizon. What we do know is that there are certain things you can do to slow down dementia. One thought is that you need to challenge your brain as much as possible. Reading, puzzles, anything that challenges the brain is good. You need to find exercise for the brain, and different forms of it. Things that become repetitive tend not to help after a while.”
The Home Instead Senior Care network also offers a number of tools to help families deal with the difficult behaviors of dementia illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, including the book “Confidence to Care” and a free mobile iOS or Android app http://www.helpforalzheimersfamilies.com/alzheimers-dementia-dealing/daily-companion/ that provides proven tips and strategies for family caregivers. “Things that help them are doing more activities http://www.helpforalzheimersfamilies.com/dementia-support-network/activities-engagement/ such as photo albums and tasks that help them reconnect with their past. Those sorts of activities help them use more areas of the brain.” Finally, the CAREGiver emphasized that her job is fulfilling. “Part of my job is being able to make the best of every situation because giving up on the client is not an option,” she said. “Maintaining a positive attitude and assuring him or her everything is going to be OK is how I overcome the challenges I face and make sure my clients know they are in charge.” Taking care of a senior loved one can be stressful for family caregivers.
Contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office in Beaverton for the assistance of a trained senior care professional. CAREGivers also are screened, bonded and ensured, and many are older adults who share the same interests as their senior clients. Many CAREGivers have completed the Home Instead Senior Care network’s Alzheimer’s Disease or Other Dementias CARE: Changing Aging Through Research and Education® Training Program, which also is available to family caregivers http://www.helpforalzheimersfamilies.com/family-caregiver-alzheimers-dementia-training/. CAREGivers trained in the CARE program have a passion to work with Alzheimer’s clients and receive ongoing classroom training and testing prior to caring for a senior with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. The Home Instead program offers a personal approach to taking care of seniors with Alzheimer’s disease at home, where 60 to 70 percent live, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. It is a unique program that has received acclaim and endorsements from experts. For more information, contact Home Instead Senior Care Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood at (503) 747-4663 or Ask us a question about Senior Home Care.