In fight against Alzheimer’s disease, caregivers are on front lines

Scientists are working hard toward finding a cure, but until that time comes, care remains essential, and supporting caregivers is critical.

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A woman stands at the entrance of a hairdressing salon that caters to people living with Alzheimer’s disease, which affects more than 230,000 Illinois residents.

A woman stands at the entrance of a hairdressing salon that caters to people living with Alzheimer’s disease, which affects more than 230,000 Illinois residents.

Photo by PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP via Getty Images

Imagine getting a job where you are charged with being responsible for another person’s health, well-being and safety, without ever applying for it. This job also involves making significant decisions regarding that individual’s medical, financial and legal wishes. You will receive no training before starting and earn no paycheck for the duration of employment.

For many families across Illinois and throughout the United States, this is not a hypothetical situation: They’re living it every day caring for a relative with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s vital they know about the resources that can help and not be hesitant to take advantage of them.

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More than 6.2 million Americans, including more than 230,000 in Illinois, are living with Alzheimer’s disease now, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that number could more than double by 2060. As the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s continues to increase, so too will the number of family caregivers.

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is challenging, especially when dealing with the symptoms associated with the disease. Compounding that are the stresses of dealing with complicated medical, legal and financial issues. Like anyone learning on the job, caregivers have questions. There is no shame or embarrassment in asking them.

Knowledge and information are two of the best tools at a caregiver’s disposal. Understanding Alzheimer’s disease and its symptoms, knowing how to build a support structure and preparing for the major decisions associated with Alzheimer’s can help make a difficult situation a little easier.

For those individuals in Illinois, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s (AFA) Educating America Tour is hosting a virtual educational conference on May 4 to help people learn more about these topics. The Alzheimer’s educational conference is free and open to everyone. You can learn more and register by visiting AFA’s website, www.alzfdn.org/tour or by calling 866-232-8484.

Anyone with questions or concerns about Alzheimer’s and caregiving can also contact AFA’s Helpline, seven days a week, by calling or connecting through our website.

Scientists are working hard toward finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, but until that time comes, care remains essential. In the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, caregivers are on the front lines. They shouldn’t be afraid to seek reinforcements.

Charles J. Fuschillo Jr., President & CEO, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America

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