By Christine Steinmetz, Hotline Attorney
November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month. According to the World Health Organization and the Alzheimer’s Association, there are approximately 47 million people in the world with dementia and approximately 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s. In addition, every 66 seconds someone develops the disease. Dementia effects mainly older adults; however, it can affect younger adults as well. Dementia is a syndrome where the memory deteriorates and a person loses their ability to perform everyday activities. Often times, a family member or loved one is caring for the person with dementia. Most people are not prepared for when he or she becomes a caregiver. The caregiver is often confused with nowhere to turn for help. However, there is support for the caregiver through different organizations.
The Alzheimer’s Association has an Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center to assist caregivers by providing information on the different stages of the disease. The organization provides information on how to enhance daily life, provide personal care, and work with doctors. There is also a message board, where you, as the caregiver, can leave messages and read the advice from other caregivers. Many caregivers feel they are alone and that no one understands what they are going through. By talking to other caregivers who are going through the same thing, the caregiver gets the support and information they need to get through one more day. You can find more information about the Alzheimer’s Association at www.alz.org.
The Alzheimer’s Association offers support groups throughout Michigan. You can contact them at 1-800-272-3900 to find a support group near you. The groups can assist you with dealing with the difference stages of dementia as the disease progresses. You can also contact your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) to find a caregivers group near you. You can find your local AAA at www.mi-seniors.net/regionalmap or call 1-800-677-1116.
AARP has several resources to help when caring for someone with dementia. You can visit them online at www.aarp.org/caregiving. You can also call AARP’s Caregiving Support line at 1-877-333-5885. They are open Monday through Friday from 7 am to 11 pm Eastern time. To speak to someone in Spanish, you can call 1-888-971-2013. In addition, AARP has a caregiving app that you can download to your phone to help you manage your to-do list and calendar. You can download this app at www.aarrp.rog/caregivingapp. There is also an app, called AARP RX, that helps you manage your loved one’s medications. You can download this app at www.aarp.org.rxapp.
So often the caregiver is so busy taking care of the loved one that the caregiver forgets to take care of him or herself. As a caregiver, one has to remember to practice self-care by taking care of their own physical and mental well-being.
In addition, the Alzheimer’s Organization has a walk to end Alzheimer’s and dementia. You can find a walk near you by going to their website.
If you are a caregiver and have legal questions, please feel free to contact the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors at 800-347-5297. We would be happy to assist you and provide the legal advice you need to properly care for your loved one.