That happened in January 2020, after Bogdal’s parents came to Nashville from Michigan for a post-Christmas visit. Bogdal’s father, Olsen’s original caregiver, died suddenly during the trip. And Bogdal knew that Olsen couldn’t live alone in Michigan, so she and her family decided Olsen would stay in Nashville and live with them full time.
Like the Bogdals, millions of people living in the United States take care of a friend or family member with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, according to Alzheimers.gov, a site managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Since moving to Nashville, Olsen has become active at Fifty Forward, a day care service where she can have social interaction and participate in activities. She usually spends three days a week at the facility and enjoys coloring.
A New York resident, German’s wife of more than 30 years, Linda German, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s when she was 62. He knew the disease was fatal, and he knew he was going to need support, he said.
He also said the COVID-19 pandemic was a sort of blessing in disguise. When everything shut down, David German was able to spend seven days a week with his wife. They stayed busy, going on car rides, dancing together, listening to music and reliving old memories through the thousands of photos they had accumulated over their 30-plus years of marriage.
David German is still heavily involved with the AFA as a volunteer and sees a therapist through the foundation once a week to help him through his grief. Even though there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, David German encourages patients to undergo clinical trials to try and slow the progression of the disease.
“Nobody can go through this alone and say, ‘yeah, it’s a very arduous path,'” David German said. “And the more help you get, whether it’s family, friends, organizations, or whatever … the better you’re going to be.”
The AFA has several resources available for Alzheimer’s caregivers, including a 24/7 helpline staffed by licensed social workers who are trained in dementia care.
On June 15, the AFA is hosting a webinar to educate Tennesseans on Alzheimer’s and the best way to care for a loved one who might be battling the disease. Lynn Wood, a certified dementia specialist and caregiver support coordinator with Mental Health America of the Midsouth, will be one of the keynote speakers at the webinar. She will focus on dealing with common difficult behaviors.
Wood wants people to be proactive rather than reactive when addressing Alzheimer’s. She believes that the best way for caregivers to do that is to educate themselves.
The AFA webinar will take place from 10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. on June 15 and is free and open to the public. It is part of the AFA’s 2022 national Educating America Tour.
“Knowledge is a useful and powerful tool that can help make any situation easier to navigate, especially something as challenging as caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease,” Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA’s President & CEO said in prepared comments. “Connecting families with useful, practical information and support that can help them now and be better prepared for the future is what this conference is all about.”
source: Clarksville Leaf Chronicle