You’re Not Alone: How to Find Professional Help Managing Alzheimer’s
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be a full-time job, even when one is lucky enough to have the help of family and friends.
Thankfully, there are people in the professional world who are employed for the sole purpose of helping you manage your loved one’s needs. Below are some examples of professionals in the field, what they can do for you, and how to contact them.
Your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA)
These agencies will assess your needs and connect you with services. It is a good idea to have a list of your needs ready to share when you call. Examples of services they may be able to help with are food, transportation, and eldercare. If you are unsure where to find this number you can call information to be connected or check online.
Your health insurance company
You may be eligible for services that you may not even know about. Home health care companies and hospices are services that provide check-in nursing, hygienic care, spiritual care, and social work services. These services are offered by some insurances to cut down on frequent emergency room visits, which can become costly. Call your insurance company and see what benefits you may have.
If you are finding it difficult to get in touch with someone helpful at your insurance company, you can look up home health care agencies and hospices in your area, and call them directly. They will be able to tell you if you qualify for their services.
Hospital social workers and case managers
If your loved one is or has recently been hospitalized or is in inpatient rehabilitation, ask to meet with the social worker or case manager. We have many local resources to share with you including information on housing, government benefits, food, transportation, respite, and caregiver services.
The Veteran’s Affairs Administration (VA)
If you or your spouse is a veteran it is always worth a call to the VA to learn about your benefits. I have the most success when I ask to speak directly with a social worker. They are familiar with the necessary paperwork, eligibility criteria, and benefits. Also, the VA is able to clearly communicate these things with those affected by Alzheimer's.
The most helpful benefit that I help people with Alzheimer's apply for is called the Aid and Attendance benefit, which provides funding for veterans to use for eldercare. Other ways the VA may be able to help include immobility equipment respite care, and adult day care.
Other places to find professional advice
Online support groups and forums are often frequented by professionals and other caregivers who can provide useful tips on activities of daily living such as lifting, bathing, toileting, and feeding. Libraries are good places to look for books on subjects related to Alzheimer’s Disease such as grief and loss and symptom management. Churches may be able to help connect you to a support group. Donation centers are good places to look when you are in need of affordable equipment such as portable toilets, wheelchairs, walkers, and shower chairs.
Please know that you are not alone in wishing you had help caring for your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. Receiving help from a professional can result in less time spent as your loved one’s nurse, scheduler, pharmacist, chef, and driver, and more time spent being a family member or friend again. Please reach out. We are here to help.
Do you know of a resource that could be helpful to the community?