Younger-onset Alzheimer’s hijacks the life of former pilot

Younger-onset Alzheimer’s hijacks the life of former pilot

Alan Romatowski was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 57. The former pilot, who has served as an Alzheimer’s Association Early-Stage Advisor, retains a sharp memory of flying commercial airliners, but he sometimes has difficulty remembering how to navigate around his home.
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Alzheimer’s disease may progress differently in women and men

Alzheimer’s disease may progress differently in women and men

Alzheimer’s may look and act differently in men and women, a new study shows. Researchers found that in the brain scans of study participants recently diagnosed with the disease, brain atrophy occurred earlier in women. However, men had more problems with thinking ability. If these findings can be confirmed by further research, they could impact the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s among the sexes.
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Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s is a second job for some

Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s
is a second job for some

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month. Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s can take a toll in a number of ways. In addition to the mental, emotional and physical impact of caregiving, its practical implications — such as balancing a paying job with a new career helping someone with the disease — may also bring a variety of challenges for the more than 15 million unpaid Alzheimer’s caregivers in the United States.

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is an emotionally devastating experience for many. It’s heartbreaking to watch a loved one – often a parent or spouse – change before your eyes into someone else. But, in addition to the mental and emotional impact of caring for someone with the condition, the practical implications of offering such care can be equally difficult. One of the biggest of these is balancing your paying job with your new career helping your ailing loved one.

“I think one of the things I hear most from caregivers is how difficult it is to manage the things you need to manage as a caregiver and still be able to do your job,” said Beth Kallmyer, vice president of constituent services for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Nationwide, more than 15 million people are providing unpaid care to people with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, and that number is only expected to grow. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are roughly 5.4 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s. By 2050, the association projects about 16 million people will have the disease.

About half of those providing unpaid care to loved ones work at least part-time, and Kallmyer said that can cause a variety of challenges. Working people might have trouble finding to provide care while they’re at work or might have to leave the office if there’s a medical emergency. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association reports that 65 percent of caregivers report either going in late, leaving early or taking time off to attend to their loved one. “We know this is impacting their jobs,” she said.

Beth Smith-Boivin agreed. Smith-Boivin is executive director and chief executive officer of the Northeastern New York Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, and former director of the Alzheimer’s/Dementia Resource Program at Albany Medical Center. In her experience, one of the things that sets caring for a dementia patient apart from caring for someone with cancer or another illness is dementia’s lack of predictability. Someone caring for a parent or spouse with, for example, lung cancer, might have to miss work for doctors’ appointments or chemotherapy sessions, but those can be planned in advance. “Even with traumatic illnesses, like cancer, the cognitive component is still in place,” Smith-Boivin said.

But an illness like Alzheimer’s, which cause mental faculties to deteriorate, is more likely to result in unannounced emergencies. “At any given moment, somebody who is a caregiver can get a call that their loved one is lost, for example,” Smith-Boivin said. “There is a lack of predictability that requires flexibility.”

She said the best thing a caregiver can do to help balance her personal and professional responsibilities is to have a frank talk with her employer about what dementia is, and the demands that she might face due to being a caregiver. “My feeling is that it’s always very important to have complete disclosure,” Smith-Boivin said.

Planning is just as important as communication and flexibility, Kallmyer said. “There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s and there’s no effective treatment that’s going to slow it down,” she said. “Planning ahead – whether it’s financial planning, or planning about how you’re going to provide care or any kind of planning is important. If those plans are in place ahead of time, when something happens, all you need to do is enact those plans. And that makes a difference.”
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Alzheimer’s Association – Share Your Story

The holiday season is the perfect time to remember all of the wonderful moments spent with family and friends. We hope you will take this opportunity to share your holiday memories with the Alzheimer’s Association and then, again, with those you cherish most.

Click a headline below to view that story.

Click the Share Story link below to share your own Holiday Memories. Each story will be reviewed by the Alzheimer’s Association before it is published. Please allow one business day for your story to be reviewed. You will be notified when your story is published. Once it appears, remember to share it with family and friends!

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The Alzheimer’s Association – it truly is about the people

The Alzheimer’s Association, it truly is about the people – those we serve, support, advocate on behalf of and ultimately champion as they face Alzheimer’s disease.

Here one woman shares her journey with us.

My name is Jane Brook and my husband Geoff was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2010 at the age of 67.

On this day of thanks and gratitude, I want to share how the Alzheimer’s Association has been such a help as Geoff and I navigate the twists and turns of this disease and its impact on our lives and our future. I also ask that you help support these critical services with an end-of-year donation.

The Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline has been a source of answers and reassurances for us. It was also through the Alzheimer’s Association that I learned about MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association® Safe Return, a live 24-hour emergency response for wandering and medical emergencies. I came to need this service earlier this year when Geoff wandered from our home. He was thankfully located several hours later.

Geoff and I have also been involved in an early stage support group in the area near Rockford where we live. I have recently started taking the educational program, Living with Alzheimer’s: For Middle-Stage Caregivers. As our time together changes, I find that this support group is offering me realistic and caring recommendations to be the caregiver I want and need to be. I am blessed with a strong support system in my family and friends to help me as the caregiver. However, I find the Alzheimer’s Association has the expertise necessary for us to walk the path that Geoff’s illness requires.

The need is great and more people like Jane and Geoff need services and support. Thank you and a Happy Thanksgiving to you and your’s!