I mentioned in the previous post that November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, so I have invited the Alzheimer’s Association to provide a guest blog. You will see a quote in this posting from Melanie Chavin, Vice President of Program Services in our own Greater Illinois Chapter. You also will find a link to the Chapter on the “Support Tools” page of our site.
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan, who was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. President Bill Clinton named the week of Thanksgiving as a time to honor caregivers in 1997, and that has expanded to National Family Caregivers Month. As an organization founded by caregivers, the Alzheimer’s Association® applauds caregivers and hopes to make their efforts a little easier year round with an innovative resources that have been designed specifically with families in mind.
This year, the Alzheimer’s Association launched two free resources for families impacted by Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s Navigator™ is an online tool to help caregivers and people with dementia evaluate their needs, identify action steps and connect with local programs and services. Developed with the feedback of people living with Alzheimer’s and caregivers, Alzheimer’s Navigator also allows users to reassess needs and adjust care plans as the disease progresses. ALZConnected™, powered by the Alzheimer’s Association, is the first social networking community designed for people living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
“These online tools can be a great help for families,” said Melanie Chavin, vice president of program services for the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Illinois Chapter. “There are so many resources available to assist families and individuals living with Alzheimer’s, and Alzheimer’s Navigator can put them in touch with resources they never knew existed. AlzConnect’s online community can help people living with dementia to feel less alone by providing support and encouragement from others in the same situation.”
Following a brief welcome survey, Alzheimer’s Navigator users complete a set of focused questions. Their responses result in customized action steps ranging from activities of daily life to legal and financial planning to safety precautions. Each user’s action plan is specific to current needs and is designed to change as the disease progresses. When local resources are needed, Alzheimer’s Navigator works in conjunction with Community Resource Finder, an online search engine, to link the user to community programs, services and resources such as adult day care or long-term care facilities.
Alzheimer’s Navigator users can also create and manage care teams so that multiple people can access and participate in the customized action plan, enabling long-distance caregivers to be involved and primary caregivers to share the responsibility. Alzheimer’s Navigator may be accessed at www.alzheimersnavigator.org.
ALZConnected is a specialized social network that allows members to connect and communicate with people who understand their unique challenges 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They can also pose questions and offer solutions to dementia-related issues, create public and private groups organized around a dedicated topic and contribute to message boards.
ALZConnected combines the features of many social networking sites and the popular Alzheimer’s Association’s message boards. Members create “connections” by extending and receiving invitations. ALZConnected may be accessed at www.alzconnected.org.
There are 210,000 people living with Alzheimer’s and 581,773 unpaid caregivers in Illinois, according to the Alzheimer’s Association 2012 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts & Figures. The Alzheimer’s Association will continue to assist families in a variety of ways to best meet their needs. This year has marked significant progress in the fight against Alzheimer’s with the development of the country’s first national plan to address the epidemic, but we have a long way to go to meet the goal to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025. It is critical that we help the millions of Americans families currently battling this progressive and fatal disease.
For more information on Alzheimer’s disease or available resources, visit alz.org or call
Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our For The Caregiver page for more information and resources