World Alzheimer’s Day 2010

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day, which the Alzheimer’s Association states is:

… a day when the Alzheimer’s Association joins with organizations and people around the globe to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and its impact on our families, communities and nations. Today, 35 million people worldwide are affected by Alzheimer’s and related dementias, and this number is growing rapidly. World Alzheimer’s Day is an opportunity to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and the need for more education, support and research.

Most people probably know that one of the primary symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is memory loss. However, some of the other signs are less well-known—and often even more difficult to deal with. These are the 10 signs from the Alzheimer’s Association:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

Regular readers know Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a cause close to my heart. In several previous posts, I have shared my experiences as one of the caregivers for my father.

Today, I am blessed and challenged as the sole caregiver for another family member with Alzheimer’s. I do not discuss this out of respect of the privacy of my loved one. But AD was a regular part of my life for seven years before my father’s death and has been a constant part of my life for more than a year.

I’m excited to report to report that my sister, Nancy Nicholson, will soon publish a booklet of practical tips for Alzheimer’s patient. Nancy was also a caregiver for my father, and she became so interested in helping others with this devastating disease that she earned a degree in social work and went to work in a nursing home. Now she is a social work consultant for several nursing homes, and in the course of her work, she trains staff on how to work with patients with AD.

Her tips booklet began life as a school project. I have encouraged her for several years to update and publish this helpful guide, and she’s in the process of preparing the manuscript now. I didn’t say, “I told you so,” but I couldn’t suppress a smile when we started working on the project. Nancy read the original booklet and said, “I didn’t realize I knew so much back then!” Of course, she’s expanding the tips and adding updated information. My associate, Beverly Ellison, and I are giving her input from our experiences as well as editing the document.  

Nancy provides information about the symptoms and stages of the disease and gives tips for a variety of situations. Topics include communication, safety, administering medication, eating, activities of daily living, and activities for the patient’s enjoyment. She also discusses specific behaviors, such as inappropriate/disturbing behavior, physical/verbal aggression, and sundowning. Nancy gives practical advice to caregivers on taking care of themselves so they can give the best care to their loved ones.

And she emphasizes the importance of laughter, which Beverly mentioned in her post about being caregiver for her mother.

Perhaps most importantly, the booklet is filled with examples of real-life situations and how other caregivers have handled them. Readers can adapt what has worked for others to the situations encountered with their own loved ones.

We don’t have a date of publication yet, but I will definitely let you know when we do. If you are a caregiver or know someone who is a caregiver for a patient with AD, you will want to read or share this booklet.

Bloggers are uniting today to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease. Find more posts at Bloggers Unite.

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