Recently, I had lunch with a friend before school started. Our conversation turned to her recent trip with her family – her husband, their three young children, and his parents. She was lamenting that her father-in-law has been exhibiting some troubling signs. He asks the same question over and over, forgets simple words, gets lost driving familiar routes, and cannot remember dates. She said, “It’s like my husband and I were the only grownups on the trip. We were utterly exhausted after we got home.”
Sound familiar? Because many of us waited to have children until later, we are now coping with young children and aging parents. We are members of the Sandwich Generation, wedged between the young and the old. The stress of raising young children is immense; when you add the stress of caring for a family member with dementia, the stress multiplies exponentially.
Fortunately, there is help available. The Alzheimer’s Association of North Central Texas Chapter stands ready to help both those with dementia and their caregivers. Through their Helpline (800.272.3900), education events, and numerous support groups, the Alzheimer’s Association is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Did you know that for people with early stage dementia, the more socially engaged and mentally active they are, the better they feel? Every Friday, the North Central Texas Chapter hosts a get-together meant to entertain, amuse, and stimulate. On the third Saturday of every month, the Grace Memory Café meets in Arlington where people with dementia and their caregivers can relax and mingle. And the 5th Street Café meets in Fort Worth on the first Wednesday of every month. People suffering from dementias and their caregivers are welcome to join the group and take a break.
Unique to the North Central Texas Chapter, Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregiver Health (REACH) is a skill-building program for caregivers. Over a six-month period, a caregiver meets with a dementia care specialist, free of charge, to address issues that caregivers face, from something as simple as how to take away the car keys, to deeper problems, such as when do we need to look into a memory care facility, with strategies aimed at reducing the stress on the caregiver.
Alzheimer’s and other dementias are the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the only cause in the top ten that does not have a cure or treatment options. Jessica Mulcahy of the North Central Texas Chapter says, “Right now, there are more people in the US facing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias than are facing prostate cancer and heart disease combined.” And it’s not just a disease of the old. Early-onset Alzheimer’s can appear in your 40s or 50s. More women will get dementia than men. If you are questioning whether someone you know is showing signs of dementia as opposed to age-related changes, click here.
So what can we as Tanglewood Moms do to help?
Every year, the Alzheimer Association hosts the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. This is the Association’s main fundraising activity, and it not only funds their care and support programs, it also supports research for a cure. This year, the Fort Worth walk will be held on Saturday, October 26, at Panther Island Pavilion.
This is how we can help.
By forming or joining a walk team, we can raise the money needed to eventually find a cure. By walking, we can educate people about the effects of dementia on families and communities. By walking, we can buy more time for families affected by dementia. And because one in three people will be affected by Alzheimer’s or another dementia at some point in their lives, by walking, we help ourselves.
To form or join a walk team, please click here. Let’s make this walk the biggest walk yet, and buy more time for our friends, our neighbors, and our families.
If you or anyone you know needs help, please call the Helpline at 800.272.3900. The Alzheimer’s Association is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week because emergencies don’t always happen during working hours.