We’ve all heard the statistics. Every 68 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease. With 5.4 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, it is currently the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. And now, according to a recent Marist survey, it is the nation’s most feared disease ahead of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
This widespread fear of Alzheimer’s stems not only from its growing prevalence among the aging Baby Boomer generation, but also from the overall feeling of unpreparedness to cope with and manage the disease’s difficult behaviors. In fact, the Marist survey found that 61 percent of Americans feel unprepared to care for a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; and 32 percent of Americans who have cared for someone with the disease reported feeling unprepared to cope with various behaviors or actions.
Unlike other terminal diseases, Alzheimer’s caregiving is most often provided in the home and by family members. Because Alzheimer’s is largely untreatable and sets in slowly over the course of many years, the role of family caregivers is paramount in managing the disease. Too often, people have no warning before they must suddenly become a caregiver, and they are generally equipped with little to no formal training to manage the disease. As a result, many caregivers feel overwhelmed and desperate for help.
However, it is important to note that there are resources for both current and future caregivers available at no cost, including formal education, training and support to help cope with the difficulties of the disease.
As a long-term caregiver to both of my parents, I understand how truly frightening the responsibility of taking care of your loved ones can be. Over the course of my career, I have studied an abundance of issues associated with aging, and have focused on developing a fresh approach to caregiving and managing the disease.
I’ve teamed up with Home Instead Senior Care to ensure that caregivers across the country have access to formal training and feel prepared to care for their loved ones. Together, we worked with experts to develop the Alzheimer’s CARE training program, which offers family members an approach to Alzheimer’s care that encourages mental engagement to help relatives remain safely at home and in familiar surroundings as long as possible. The training helps family members learn to immerse themselves in the mindsets of their loved ones to help manage various behavioral symptoms.
Local Home Instead Senior Care offices are offering more than 600 free, in-person Alzheimer’s CARE training sessions to family caregivers in all 50 states during the months of November and December.
Please spread the word to help family caregivers improve the lives of their aging parent as well as their own lives.
To find a free Alzheimer’s training session near you or to take the online training course, please visit www.helpforalzheimersfamilies.com.
The Home Instead training sessions offer valuable insights designed to help caregivers understand how to help their loved ones, but speaking from my personal experience as a caregiver, it’s essential to ensure you take care of yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Dr. Amy D'Aprix is the Executive Director of the DAI Foundation, a nonprofit organization established to meet the needs of caregivers. She is also President of Dr. Amy Inc., a company dedicated to Family Caregiver Wellness by providing access to information and education, services, support with emotional and family issues, and legal and financial support. She holds a PhD and Masters in Social Work, specializing in Gerontology, and earned her CSA (Certified Senior Advisor) - a designation for which she also trains others, as part of their accreditation.
 The Home Instead Senior Care/Marist Alzheimer’s Poll surveyed 1,247 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. Live interviewers conducted the survey with landline households and cell phone users from Sept. 26-Oct. 2, 2012. MOE is +/- 2.8 percentage points. Note, the survey sample size was lower for questions pertaining to direct experience with Alzheimer’s disease personally and/or through a family member or friend. *Reduced survey sample size of 280 U.S. adults ages 18 and older who know someone with Alzheimer’s disease and are involved with their care with MOE of +/-5.9 percentage points.
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