With the infinite amount of information available on the web, it can be difficult to sift through and find helpful, local resources and information as we learn about the disease, how to manage it, and care for ourselves or another who suffers from dementia.
Keeping that in mind, we wanted to provide useful information for individuals through their journey with dementia. Read on for national and local resources as well as some tools and things to consider when dealing with the disease.
While they may host an overwhelming amount of information, National groups and resources can be a great place to start when in the beginning stages of learning about Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Support from Minnesota Research Centers
Health Partners Center for Memory and Aging is an organization that does a lot of research into Alzheimer's, focusing on a variety of ways to help victims of the disease.
At the Alzheimer’s Research Center in St. Paul, Dr. William Frey is studying the treatment of the disease with a mist that crosses into the brain through the blood-brain barrier. Some people refer to Alzheimer's as "diabetes of the brain" and Dr. Frey's research focuses on using insulin in a high enough dose to improve cognition. The initial results were promising, and they are now doing a larger study.
The University of Minnesota hosts an annual conference: Caring for a Person with Memory Loss. This can be a great educational opportunity for anyone caring for someone with dementia at home. Over the 11 years I've owned Comfort Keepers, I have had staff and families attend the annual event. They have always come back very satisfied with the time they spent at the event and what they learned. Dr. Joseph Gaugler sponsors this event and has an email list that you can join with information and updates. Click here to see his background and his email to request an invitation.
The Mayo Clinic has an Alzheimer's Disease Research Center that has held unique events in the Twin Cities from time to time. There are many experts that speak at the event along with a learning lab and displays. Click here for event information and a link to get on their mailing list. Mayo tends to be on the cutting edge of new technology that may be able to help now.
Dementia Friendly Communities
Minnesota Leads the Way in Active Alzheimer's-Friendly Communities. Minnesota has been a trendsetter for community activities related to Alzheimer's disease. The group ACT on Alzheimer's served as a model for the White House initiative to deal with community-based dementia issues nationwide. Their primary focus is to help communities become Alzheimer's-friendly places to live. Some of the communities have created unique resources for businesses and citizens while others have focused on awareness. List of dementia-friendly communities
Memory Cafes Can Provide Much Needed Support
A Memory Cafe is a program for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and their families to connect with others going through the same thing. Occasionally people that have early-onset Alzheimer’s say they appreciate the opportunity to discuss how the disease is impacting them. Check out this list of cafes in Minnesota and also find them near you by contacting your county human services department.
Utilizing Technology as a Resource
As with many things, we often hope to find solutions from our technological world. Although Alzheimer's tends to lend itself to more simple solutions, you will find some additional ideas below.
Personal Emergency Response Systems can be helpful for people with Alzheimer's if they have wandering issues. In most cases, there should be someone else in the home to make sure they are being used correctly. Generally, anything that can track a person's whereabouts needs to be charged in order to work and be on their person when they go outside. This can be more challenging than it sounds when working with people with Alzheimer's.
ID Bracelets come in many varieties now utilizing technology that can be very helpful for seniors. The information on this ID bracelet can be scanned by emergency personnel and they can get both a medical history and a home address. The medical history can be vitally important!
Electronic Companion Pets can also soothe the mind of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s. Animated animals like these from Ageless Innovations retail for just over $100. They react to the person holding them by purring, barking, wiggling, rolling over, etc. These types of animations have been known to be quite comforting and worth a try now that they are less expensive.
Whether you are ready to take the next steps in attending support group meetings, getting involved with an organization to combat dementia, or simply want some information and guidance as you cope with the ever-changing disease, remember that you are not alone and that there are resources available to help and educate when you are affected by dementia. Check out our website for additional information and resources on Alzheimer’s and dementia care for yourself or a loved one.