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Focusing on dementia and services close to home

The Logan Daily News - 12/21/2017

LOGAN - Area agencies are joining the nationwide effort to draw attention to dementia, serving those who have the disease and supporting caregivers who take care of the loved ones.

There are more than five million people currently living with dementia nationally and one in 10 people age 65 and older has Alzheimer's disease, according to National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

Michelle Crum, Education Coordinator for the Central Ohio Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association said that there are reportedly 210,000 people in Ohio living with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia and 597,000 others provide unpaid care.

Gwynn Stewart, Communications Director for Buckeye Hills Regional Council, which serves eight counties in Southeast Ohio including Hocking County, said the campaign aims at letting the public know that people with dementia can live well in the community and there is support available.

Programs Buckeye Hills Regional Council offer include the PASSPORT program, which provides in-home services and support for people with a nursing home level of care.

Stewart explained that care managers work with the family, physician and home health workers to customize a care plan that includes home delivered meals, personal care, chore service and emergency response systems.

Another program is Project Lifesaver, which is a rapid response search and rescue service for individuals who may tend to wander away.

"It uses state of the art technologies and strategies to prevent or reduce the potential of harm to individuals suffering from Alzheimer's, Down Syndrome, Autism, traumatic brain injuries, and cognitive impairments," Stewart conveyed.

Stewart added that individuals wear a wristband where a transmitter emits a personalized silent constant pulsating radio signal 24 hours a day.

"Once notified, the team responds on the ground to the wanderer's area and starts searching with the mobile locater tracking system," Stewart explained. "We partner with the region's local sheriff's offices to coordinate this program."

If people are not eligible for certain programs, Stewart said they could refer individuals to different resources in Hocking County.

Another important aspect of Buckeye Hills Regional Council is educating caregivers about dementia as there are about 15 million Americans who provide 18.2 billion hours of unpaid care to people living with dementia, according to National Association of AAA8.

Stewart said there is a Savvy Caregiver Program, which is a six-week training for people who care for a family member with dementia, that people in Hocking County and beyond should take advantage of in February of 2018.

The program runs Feb. 20 and 27 as well as March 6, 13, 20, and 27 at OhioHealth O'Bleness Hospital, 55 Hospital Dr., in Athens from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. For more information on the free training, call 800-272-3900.

Marjorie Moore, Executive Director for the Scenic Hills Senior Center explained that they have been providing Alzheimer's respite care for many years.

"All of our homemakers attend meetings pertaining to care of older adults. We offer our clients three hour blocks weekly. This will be determined after a personal assessment is done and need is determined," Moore noted.

To qualify for the program, the senior center needs a signed form from the individual's doctor stating they have Alzheimer's or dementia; client must be 60 years or older; and live in Hocking County, according to Moore.

"Programs such as these are needed because families need personal time for themselves to get groceries, prescriptions and mostly personal time for themselves. They know their loved ones are being cared for and watched," Moore concluded.

For more information, call the Senior Center at 740-385-6581.

Futhermore, the holiday season can be stressful in general, and for people who have Alzheimer's and other types of dementia, it's even more intense.

"Holidays are a time for family togetherness and memories, but can also be a time filled with stress and sadness for the person with dementia and the caregiver," Crum stated.

Crum explained that as the disease progresses, the physical changes at home, the shifts in usual routines and the increased activity and noises at this time of year can be upsetting and may lead to unusual behaviors or emotions.

The Alzheimer's Association recommends that caregivers avoid situations that may confuse or irritate patients, such as:

Crowds of people who expect the individual to remember them.

A change in regular routine and sleep patterns.

Loud music and loud conversations.

The organization also recommends for caregivers to prepare the loved one with Alzheimer's disease (AD) before holiday gatherings.

Crum shared that People with AD can act in different and unpredictable ways - some individuals become anxious or aggressive.

"Some people will repeat certain questions or gestures. Many misinterpret what they hear. These types of reactions can lead to misunderstanding, frustration and tension, particularly between the person with dementia and the caregiver," Crum continued. "It's important to understand that the person is not trying to be difficult and the behavior can be a form of communication."

It's also important to prepare the guests before coming to a gathering as well, as they need to know what to expect.

"Many people are uncertain of how to interact with someone with dementia," Crum noted. "Equipping them with tools for a successful visit can minimize their apprehension and create an enjoyable visit for everyone."

Crum offered these tips for guests to enhance communication with a person with AD:

Always approach the person from the front.

Avoid criticizing, correcting and arguing.

Be calm and supportive.

It's also important to give practical gifts and adapt to the needs of the loved one with AD. The Alzheimer's Association's ideas are:

Items to help the person remember such as post-it notes or a notebook.

Items to help the person stay engaged such as a movie, music or craft projects.

Sensory stimulation gifts, large desk calendars, bird feeders, comfortable clothes, a medication holder with a timer, identification bracelet or a photo album.

Experts suggest that those with AD should not be given gifts such as: pets, challenging board games, sharp objects, dangerous tools or instruments.

For more information or questions visit alz.org or call the Alzheimer's Association 24-hour Helpline at 1-800-772-8672 as it is open year round, including Christmas Day and New Year's Day.


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