Did you know that Alzheimer’s disease — the most common form of dementia — is also the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States? According to the Alzheimer’s Association website, “every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s.”
As an Alzheimer’s care manager, I provide support for caregivers who care for someone living with the disease. Though each case is different, almost all caregivers can in retrospect identify a place or time when they first noticed signs of Alzheimer’s disease in loved ones but weren’t sure of where to go for help or what to do next. The disease can sometimes escalate rapidly and caring for a sufferer can become stressful or have a negative impact on one’s health.
November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness month, and as a caregiver it is important to spend time learning about the disease, the common behaviors of those who are afflicted, and, most important, how to communicate and provide care for someone who is diagnosed or living with the disease.
What causes Alzheimer’s and how to cure it remain a mystery, but we know that counseling caregivers and their families results in greater caregiver well-being. As evidenced by over 20 years of scientific trial led by epidemiologist and researcher Dr. Mary Mittelman, the New York University Caregiver Intervention — available and offered at our community’s Jewish Family Services — provides education and counseling for spousal and other caregivers, helping to create a framework for care. With such resources, caregivers and their families feel better equipped to face the challenges and strains brought on by what can be an unpredictable, tumultuous, and life-changing disease.
To find out more about the intervention, Alzheimer’s disease, or other services and programs offered by our agencies, e-contact me at MLopes@jfscentralnj.org.
JFS of Central NJ, with offices in Elizabeth and Clark, serves residents of Union County and parts of Somerset County; call 908-352-8375 or visit jfscentralnj.org. JFS of MetroWest, with offices in Florham Park, Livingston, and Jersey City, serves residents of Essex, Morris, Sussex, southern Hudson, and northern Union counties; call 973-765-9050 or visit jfsmetrowest.org. Both are beneficiary agencies of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.