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Carol Bradley Bursack, Published January 09 2011

Bursack: Alzheimer’s helpline offers vital assistance

The Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America are organizations that help people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers receive education and support throughout the Alzheimer’s journey. Both, of course, champion ongoing hope that through research, the disease will one day be conquered.

Meanwhile, millions of people live with the disease, and millions more are affected because someone they love has Alzheimer’s disease. Spouses and adult children are generally first-line caregivers, at least in the beginning stages.

While in-person support groups can be vital to many people, and online support is available through many sites and forums, these organizations each sponsor a unique way to help people via telephone through the Alzheimer’s Association Helpline, which is toll-free and open anytime, day or night, at (800) 272-3900.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association website (www.alz.org), the association’s Helpline provides information and support to all those who need assistance with dementia and Alzheimer’s issues.

The Helpline serves people with memory loss, their caregivers, health care professionals and other people interested in the disease.

The Alzheimer’s Association trains its staff to help people understand memory loss, medications and other treatment options, general information about aging and brain health, skills to provide quality care and to find the best care from professionals, and legal, financial and living-arrangement decisions.

The site also features “confidential care consultation provided by master’s-level clinicians who can help with decision-making support, crisis assistance and education on issues families face every day, help in a caller’s preferred language using our translation service that features over 140 languages and dialects and referrals to local community programs, services and ongoing support.”

The Helpline is supported in part by a grant from the Administration on Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

If this sounds interesting or beneficial, you also may want to join the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s “Care Connections.” It’s a telephone support network that takes calls at 8 p.m. Thursdays. Dial toll-free (877) 232-2992 and, when prompted, enter the Guest ID: 271004#. For schedules and further details on Care Connection, call the AFA or visit the website at www.alzfdn.org/AFAServices/careconnection.html.

Both of these organizations are helpful with general information on Alzheimer’s and memory loss, as well as specific questions. Browse their websites and try these care options. In general, the more support and information we have, the better we cope.

Carol Bradley is the author of a support book on caregiving and runs a website supporting caregivers at www.mindingourelders.com. She can be reached at carol@mindingourelders.com.