Monday, November 12, 2007

Quality Care for Alzheimer's

If you have cared for someone with Alzheimer's disease, you know it is a lot of work. For example, when they lose control of their bladder and bowels, like our uncle Frank. He's in the late stages of Alzheimer's and his wife constantly changes his underwear and pants after he wets himself. Her laundry duties are endless with bed sheets and clothes of uncle Frank that needs to be washed often.

When they last visited, they drove from Montana and she either had to pull over at rest stops, grocery stores, (or even on the side of the freeway) to change uncle Frank in the women's restroom. Some stores were supportive like WalMart would put up a sign closing the restroom temporarily while in other restrooms where she didn't have the courtesy, uncle Frank and his wife would receive dirty looks from the women in the restrooms who did not understand that he's unable to take care of himself.

One time, uncle Frank wet himself in a small antique shop and when his wife asked for paper towels to clean up after him, she was treated rudely by the store clerk who was occupied on the phone the entire time they were in the shop and instead of handing her paper towels like most people would, kicked a roll of towels her way. How rude!

I can only imagine how difficult it can be to be a caretaker of someone with Alzheimer's. I know the scope of responsibility reaches beyond changing clothes. That's why the Alzheimer's Foundation of America focuses on "Together for Care...in addition to Cure".

Alzheimer's is a progressive and degenerative disorder that we hope to find a cure for but that may be years away from now. In the meantime, it is estimated that over 5 million people are affected with the disease and I am glad to know that there are organizations like AFA who are dedicated to providing the best possible care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families.

Not only has AFA partnered with Excellence in Care to establish nationwide standards in quality care, they also have a Quilt to Remember Tour that is moving from city to city. You can make your own quilt panel or watch t.v. coverage of the tour (which was very touching by the way). Check it out here: http://www.alzquilt.org/

There is also an Alzheimer's Foundation of America eStore where all proceeds benefit the Alzheimer's Foundation of America. So when you are shopping for holiday gifts this year, please considering visiting the eStore. I really like the necklaces and pins that they offer.

While finding a cure for Alzheimer's is important, we don't want to overlook the importance of quality care for those who suffer from Alzheimer's disease. If uncle Frank was in a home instead of being cared for by his wife, I would want to know that he's in good hands and supporting organizations like the Alzheimer's Foundation of America is one way to help make that happen.

Contributions can be made through purchases at the eStore or you can contribute it many other ways through this link: http://www.alzfdn.org/contribute/index.shtml



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