Today is World Alzheimer’s day. It has been around since 1994. It had me thinking about how much has changed in Alzheimer’s supports and services since 1994. My own grandfather started his journey with Alzheimer’s disease in 1994, so I thought it was a perfect opportunity to compare the past to the present.
My grandfather’s journey started out with 5 years of basically acting like everything was okay. The uncertainty of his memory loss was paralyzing. We didn’t talk openly about what was happening. Our family didn’t reach out for help and instead relied completely on what we could provide internally, which wasn’t enough. I feel sad thinking about how my grandfather navigated those first 5 years without proper support or understanding.
As his thinking became more impaired, the lack of support and education made daily activities nearly impossible for my grandmother. An out- of-state move closer to an adult son worsened the confusion and led to car rides home with police officers and difficult confrontations in public places.
At NWRC, we offer several services that would have changed our family’s experience with dementia from reactive to proactive. The Family Caregiver Support program would have given my grandmother the support she needed to work on caring for herself and for my grandfather.
She would have been connected to caregiver support groups, funds for respite care, legal help, help with transportation, in-home meals, the STAR-C program for behavioral intervention and, most importantly, individuals who could help her feel like she wasn’t alone.
By getting connected to a support network, we could have planned more efficiently for the trajectory of the diagnosis and avoided many heart-breaking events that defined our experience with this disease.
If you are experiencing memory loss, or know someone who is, please advise them to reach out to NWRC’s Aging and Disability Resource staff at (360) 676-6749. A quick phone call could change your life in very positive ways. I wish these services had been around for my grandparents, as I am confident that they can improve the quality of life for those who use them.
About Northwest Regional Council:
Since 1971, Northwest Regional Council has been helping older adults, people with complex medical conditions and their families obtain resources and assistance that promote optimal health, well-being, and independence to improve quality of life in Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties. For more information, nwrcwa.org
Health and Human Services Planner
Community Programs Director