Alzheimer Society says homecare needed to avert crisis

The Alzheimer Society poster shows a middle aged blonde women with her arm around an older woman.
‘The day I was no longer her child’ states the headline. The younger women looks right into the camera. The older women stares off to the side, seeming unaware of the camera, or her daughter.
This is Helen Henderson and her mother Lillian.
Helen and her mother are the poster family for the Alzheimer Society of Canada, which has embarked on an awareness campaign.
According to the organization, 300 thousand Canadians have Alzheimer and related dementia diseases. The degenerative brain disorder has no known cause or cure.

Cases could double with boomers

In the next three decades, it’s predicted the case numbers will double as baby boomers head into the key Alzheimer years, over 65.
Steve Rudin, the head of the Alzheimer Society of Canada, says the potential is there for a crisis.
He says homecare is the major issue. Like Helen Henderson, caregivers find they can no longer cope. They are eager for help through day programs, respite, overnight and weekend care. They also need home care that blends with their work schedules.
And oncehe disease becomes more severe, they need specially trained caregivers.
Rudin says a national home care system with standards set by the federal government is the most effective way to head off what he sees as an impending crisis.
He also wants more money spent on research.
‘With vast numbers of people likely to get this disease, it’s even more urgent for us to find a cause and cure.’
The other emphasis for research, he says, is to develop better methods of diagnosis.
The Society estimates that Canadians spend over 3.9 billion dollars a year for people with Alzheimer and dementias.
Pamphlet outlines ways to help 

The Alzheimer Society outlines in a new pamphlet several ways to assist families living with the disease:
· Keep in touch-maintain contact with family caregivers with a card, call or a visit. Continue to send cards of letters, even if you don’t get a reply.
· Give a caregiver a break-offer to stay with the person with Alzheimer Disease so the caregiver can run errands, attend a support group meeting or do a favourite activity. Even if the caregiver stays in the house, this will be some personal time.
· Do little things-make extra portions of food when cooking and drop it off in a freezable container. Surprise the caregiver with a special treat-a rented movie, or a library book. If you’re doing errands, check to see if the caregiver needs anything.
· Become informed-learn about Alzheimer Disease and its impact on a family. Most people who have it wander at some point. Be aware of someone who may seem lost and confused and find out what you can do to help.
· Learn to listen-sometimes caregivers just need to talk to someone. Try not to question or judge, but rather support and accept. You don’t need to provide all the answers, just be a compassionate listener.

Copies of  the pamphlet Ways to Help: Assisting Families Living with Alzheimer Disease are available from local Alzheimer Societies. The information is also on the society’s website.