What’s Next When Your Loved One Gets a Dementia Diagnosis?
This June at Paradigm Health we are celebrating Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month by sharing Central Indiana dementia resources and support for those dealing with a recent diagnosis.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s – and that number is projected to rise to nearly 14 million by the year 2050. In 2016, 17 percent of Hoosiers in hospice had a primary diagnosis of dementia. The number of Hoosiers who died from Alzheimer’s disease in 2017 totaled 2,771.
Meet Elsie Hardy
Elsie Hardy, MOT, OTR, CDP
Elsie Hardy, MOT, OTR, CDP is one of Paradigm’s staff members trained rigorously to serve our patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s-related challenges. She has her master’s in Occupational Therapy and is a Registered Occupational Therapistas well as a Certified Dementia Practitioner.
She shares “We were provided numerous resources and a giant book on dementia training. Since the training, I have been able to implement varying strategies and techniques with my patients I care foras well as share the knowledge with our Paradigm Heath staff, family, and caregivers.”
As one of our resident dementia experts, Hardy is sharing some dementia resources in Indianapolis for Hoosiers coping with a diagnosis.
What is Dementia?
There are a variety of descriptions or definitions of dementia, but Hardy shares the one that resonates with her from her Certified Dementia Practitioner training:
“I really loved how simply the NCCDP explains dementia and Alzheimer’s: ‘Dementia in itself is NOT a disease but loss of mental function that affects their daily life. It is a progressive loss of brain cells resulting in decline of day-to-day cognition and functioning. A terminal condition.’”
Another common definition she shares is from the Alzheimer’s Association: “Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term that describes a group of symptoms.”
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is a commonly known type of dementia, in addition to other types of dementia such as Lewy Body Dementia, Parkinson’s Disease Dementia, or Huntington’s Disease.
Hardy shares the definition from the NCCDP training: “Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia that some families refer to as ‘the long goodbye.’ This form of dementia can last anywhere from 7 to 20 years.”
The Alzheimer’s Association also defines Alzheimer’s as a “degenerative brain disease and the most common form of dementia.”
What Central Indiana Dementia resources would you recommend?
The Alzheimer’s Association of Indiana makes the top of Hardy’s list as a popular resource for families and caregivers. She notes “They are a growing chapter of the nationwide program for the Alzheimer’s Association. They’re doing so much as far as advocacy, fundraising, and making sure they are a resource for the surrounding community of caregivers, families, and all those affected by Alzheimer’s disease.”
The Alzheimer’s Association of Indiana serves 73 counties in Indiana, including the Central Indiana region, the city of Indianapolis, and surrounding counties. They offer support groups and educational programs for caregivers and families affected.
If you are seeking home health care in Indianapolis, Hardy emphasizes “Paradigm Health takes pride in caring for each of our patients as our very own family, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help!”
What advice would you give someone who has just received a diagnosis (either of their own or a family member/loved one)?
Hardy’s experience with Paradigm patients has deeply impacted her understanding of how challenging it is to be a caregiver but Central Indiana has many dementia resources and support groups to take advantage of. She underscores that “the best advice I can give is to not be afraid to ask for help. Caregiver burnout is a real thing. There is an unlimited amount of resources – people and places – that are willing and ready to help you care for your loved ones. There are several community support groups for caregivers of individuals with dementia, as well as many publications and organizations that want to share their knowledge of dementia.”
Every month of the year, but especially this June, we encourage you to spread awareness and knowledge about dementia and Alzheimer’s!