Program helps Alzheimer patients and families

TriAD is an innovative information and support program developed by the Alzheimer Society of Canada (AS) through an educational grant from Pfizer Canada for people dealing with mild Alzheimer’s. The ‘AD’ stands for Alzheimer’s disease, the ‘Tri’ for the patient, carer and healthcare professional.

"TriAD is designed to lead these people together in an organized and efficient way toward managing the disease," says Alan B. Bootes, president and CEO of Pfizer Canada.

TriAD contains information specifically prepared for each member of the team, so that each clearly understands his or her role. Included is a series of newsletters, videos and workbooks that take readers and viewers through each stage of ‘The Alzheimer Journey.’

In focus groups across the country, caregivers told the AS what they felt they needed to know in the early stages of the disease, says Linda LeDuc, Director of Support Services and Education for the Society in Toronto, and the principal author of the TriAD material. Using that information as a base, they then produced the videos, in which caregivers offer advice about signs to watch for, explain how they weathered the first stages of care and e sort of things that helped.

The videos help people to ask for support, LeDuc says, "and they encourage them to do so." They also help people prepare for the kinds of financial and medical decisions they’ll have to make in the future, when the person they’re caring for won’t be able to make such decisions on his or her own behalf. In short, the videos help people deal with change, LeDuc says, "because the one thing you can be sure of with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is that there will be change."

The accompanying workbooks reinforce the video’s content with checklists, and tips and advice regarding issues that families deal with in the first stages, such as relearning how to communicate with the person you’re caring for. There are also tips about organizing resources, building a support network and handling caregiver stress. "We know caregivers are stressed," says LeDuc, "so we’re trying to provide them with some tools and some ways of looking at how they might ease the burden of care.’

All materials are available free through your physician or the Alzheimer Society of Canada. Resources are also being prepared for people dealing with the middle and late stages of AD; those should be available later this winter. For more information about the disease or support services, contact your local Alzheimer’s Society office, call 1-800-616-8816.