Help for families facing Alzheimer’s

Older Generation

A caregiver’s load depends on the amount of help that an Alzheimer’s patient needs and a family’s involvement.

Tasha Orr-Holmes, community outreach coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association southeastern Wisconsin chapter, said she works with families in Racine and Kenosha in person and over the phone to link them with resources and help them find options to take care of a relative diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

“Sometimes families just need to talk it out, what is happening to a loved one and what is going to happen later,” Orr-Holmes said.

Caregivers are typically thought of as individuals who live with and monitor an Alzheimer’s patient, but Orr-Holmes said families should not feel ashamed to admit they cannot care for their family members’ sickness.

In some cases, Orr-Holmes will recommend that a caregiver pass everyday care of a patient to an assisted living home to make sure a caregiver can still work and be social.

Orr-Holmes said she worries about the physical and mental health of full time caregivers because the job can cause caregivers to withdraw socially or get sick.

“They have a high rate of emotional stress, and that then can cause them to have high blood pressure and trouble with their immune system, and then when that happens there’s no one to take care of their loved ones,” Orr-Holmes said.

Caregivers living far from their relatives can also provide support with visits and financial help.

Because patients’ brain cells deteriorate in different ways, some individuals may be impacted beyond memory loss or confusion, such as exhibiting different behavior or struggling to walk.

“They’re all different, yes they’ve had this disease, but it depends on how it is working in their brain,” Orr-Holmes said.

For advice on how to help someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, contact the Racine County Aging and Disability Resource Center at 262-833-8777 or the 24-hour Alzheimer’s Association hotline at 800-272-3900.

A full list of assisted living facilities, resources and programs for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers is available at

Source: Journal Times



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