Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Important to Patient and Families

By Assemblyman Will Barclay

</p> <p>Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski)</p>
Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski)

Alzheimer’s disease affects approximately 5.5 million Americans and is the sixth leading cause of death in America. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 10 million baby boomers will develop Alzheimer’s in their lifetime.  It is estimated that the direct and indirect costs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias to Medicare, Medicaid and businesses amount to more than $148 billion each year.

Alzheimer’s not only affects the patient but the entire family of the loved one.  As memory fades and brain capacity diminishes, many concerns arise such as safety and proper care of the loved one.

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.  This month, several national, state, local agencies and healthcare organizations are working toward educating the public about the disease and helping families to cope with the many changes that invariably take place once the disease takes hold.  A proper diagnosis can help family members prepare for the many decisions their loved ones may not have the capacity to make for themselves.  There will be screenings throughout the country on Nov. 18, National Memory Screening Day; one will be held locally at Kmart in Fulton from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, early detection of Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia allows individuals and their families to learn more and plan better for the future.  To that end, families should consider the following:

•    Discuss the disease, its symptoms, the way it progresses and the range of treatment options with physicians or other qualified healthcare professionals.
•    Tell family and friends about the diagnosis; educate them about the disease and ask for family support.
•    Locate and participate in community resources, such as support groups, adult day services and respite programs at local Alzheimer’s organizations or other community agencies.
•    Seek support services for primary caregivers and other family members, including support groups, telephone buddies and respite care.
•    Plan for the future in terms of treatment choices, legal issues, financial matters, long-term care, and end-of-life wishes while the individual is able to participate in the decision-making process.
•    Prepare advance directives, such as a living will and power of attorney.
•    Address issues such as safety, motor vehicle driving and living arrangements.
•    Protect the individual with the disease from physical, emotional or financial abuse.

To locate a support group near you, contact your local hospital or call the county Offices of Aging and Youth at (315) 349-3484 in Oswego County or (315) 435-2362 in Onondaga County.  If you have any questions or comments or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.