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Early Detection of Alzheimer's Disease
By Kristine Dwyer, Staff Writer

(Page 6 of 6)

Caregiving can produce a great deal of stress that can lead to physical decline and emotional exhaustion. The health of caregivers is at risk, yet they often become the “hidden patients” while focusing all of their attention on the person with AD. Caregivers need to keep their own health in check and visit their doctor on a regular basis. Support systems must also be alert to signs of caregiver burnout or depression and plans must be made to provide respite to the caregiver. No one can do it all alone. It is heartbreaking to watch a loved one go through the stages of Alzheimer’s disease and caring for them requires an abundance of strength. Asking for help and taking care of yourself cannot be overemphasized.

The Alzheimer’s Association assistance is available nationwide and offers a wide variety of programs, educational materials and support services to persons with AD and their caregivers. Many communities have a local or regional chapter and offer regular education and support group meetings. The Alzheimer’s Association also provides:

A 24-hour, tollfree (multilingual) Information Helpline (800) 272-3900 that links callers to information about AD, treatments, caregiving strategies and local programs.

The nation’s largest Alzheimer’s library including books, journals, cassettes, videos and CDs that can be obtained through interlibrary loans at your local library.
Internet support at, including online chat rooms, research updates, brain health tips, the new CareFinder program that assists caregivers in planning care and finding support and the Safe Return program, which helps families locate a loved one who has wandered off or gotten lost. This Internet site is set up to help families and caregivers make informed decisions.Care Consultation— one of the core services of the Alzheimer’s Association (available in most states) that assists the person with AD or related dementias and their family in planning for, and dealing with, all aspects of the illness experience.

In addition to contacting the Alzheimer’s Association, consider care options such as in-home respite care, adult day programs, home care services, delivered meals programs, or chore services. Keep a personal journal of your journey or a medical journal to record helpful information for yourself and the physician. Continue with activities that are enjoyed. Maintain a network of support and communicate your needs to family members, friends, volunteers, and organizations to avoid isolation. Join a caregiver support group to find hope, gain valuable information from people who understand your position and learn new ways to cope with the challenges you face.

Alzheimer’s disease impacts the whole family. Like a pebble thrown into the water, the ripples of the disease touch the lives of everyone. The signs and symptoms of AD can’t be ignored! Early detection and current treatments can help maintain or even improve memory, thinking and behavior problems plus support the quality of life for persons with AD and their caregivers.


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