According to the Alzheimer’s Association more than 5 million individuals in the United States are currently living with Dementia. It’s an often crippling disease that impacts the daily lives of not only those suffering, but the family members caring for them.
“So things that we take for granted everyday like remembering to pay bills. It’s memory loss that interferes with their ability to do things as part of their every day life,” Sara Murphy with the Alzheimer’s Association said.
Memory loss or forgetfulness is often thought of as just a normal part of aging. The Alzheimer’s Association however says if you or a loved one exhibit 1 or more of these 10 warning signs you should seek help from a doctor and start thinking about a plan for care.
“The biggest tip really is do not leave that individual alone. If a family member does fear that their loved one might not be safe at home, making sure that they take the steps necessary to make sure that somebody is either checking in on them, whether it’s a neighbor…kind of just making sure that there are looked after,” Murphy said.
Places like Elderwood in Waverly are a resource for caregivers to learn more about the different programs and services not only at their facility but in others like it throughout the area.
“There’s different programs throughout the community that are there to help those patients so that the family members that are working can send their loved ones there during the day. They have programs to help patients stay out in the community for as long as they can,” Elderwood’s Director of Admissions and Marketing Nicole Yhl said.
There’s different levels of care for different levels of need. Everything from day programs, in home care, assisted living, and skilled nursing. Finding out which one is right for your situation starts with a simple phone call.
“If you don’t know where else to go, call one of the skilled nursing facilities in the area and say help, this is where I’m at. And again it may not be that facility, it may be you have to direct them someplace else but I think that’s one of the biggest things that they can do,” Yhl said.
There’s also some things experts say can help slow the progression of the disease.
“When someone is at home and they’re not engaged in the community, 9 times out of 10 you can expect that they’re having some depression and so they tend to withdraw if we tend to withdraw we tend to give up. If we don’t have a purpose there’s nothing to fight for,” Director of Adult Medical Day Services Program Terry Ritchie said.
Keeping active and engaged go along way.
“It does help increase brain activity to stay engaged, maybe volunteer, making sure that cognitive activity remains,” Murphy said.
The Alzheimer’s Association has a 24/7 helpline. That number is 1-800-272-3900. They also offer medical ID bracelets with GPS tracking capabilities to help find individuals with dementia that may wandered of.