New App Helps Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregivers

By KBJR News 1

September 16, 2013 Updated Sep 16, 2013 at 10:33 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Alzheimer's and other dementias are quickly becoming a global health crisis.

In the Northland several vulnerable adults have gone missing this summer.

There's still no sign of 74-year-old, Dale Gerard, who was last seen getting off a DTA bus in Duluth's Lincoln Park neighborhood, eight weeks ago.

As the family continues to hope, authorities ask that people check their properties for any sign of the missing senior.

There are some new resources that can help families coping with the daily challenges, often resulting from Alzheimer's and other dementias.

The families of people who suffer from Alzheimer's or Dementia frequently fear, and too often must face, the unexpected.

"This is something we've never experienced,” Maria Gerard, Dale’s Daughter-in-law said. “She's got dementia, she can't remember a lot of things. I don't know that she would event remember our phone numbers or how to get in touch with us. It's scary that she might be roaming out there, not knowing how to reach anybody. "

About 70 percent of people with Alzheimer's live at home, leaving care responsibilities to the family.

Gerard's family is still searching for answers, but a new smartphone app aims to prevent other families from living the same nightmare.

The Alzheimer's and Other Dementias Daily Helper offered by Home Instead Senior Care offers more than 500 searchable tips and solutions and allows families to connect and exchange advice.

"Let's say that you are feeling alone and vulnerable today because your loved one has just had the worst day ever and you feel like you are the only one,” Char Johnson of Home Instead Senior Care said. “There is access to a caregiver blog in there, so you can read what other people's experiences are."

It's hard to predict when a behavior is going to change.

Johnson recommends giving your loved one a GPS pendant or phone and safety proofing your home, to re-direct a loved one.

"Things like door alarms or putting black rugs near doors so they may appear to somebody with dementia to be a hole,” she said.

Home Instead Senior Care also offers more in-depth resources, like the Confidence to Care at Home kit with tips to manage aggression, belligerence, refusal to eat or confusion.

Caregiver classes are also available.

"It's a great place to come in and learn a little bit more about Alzheimer's in a non-threatening, relaxing way where you don't feel like you're on at timeline, such as if you are in with a physician,” Brett Andrews, of Home Instead Senior Care said.

Gerard's family continues to remain hopeful.

"We just go day by day, and just hope and pray that she's somewhere having a good time," Gerard said.

Others are preparing for and preventing the unexpected.

Anyone with information about Dale Gerard's where about is asked to call 911.

World Alzheimer's Day is this Saturday, September 21st.

The annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s, Duluth area Walk begins at 10 a.m., Saturday, 28.

For more information about the app or to get a copy of the Confidence to Care at Home kit and other available resources, visit Help For Alzheimer’s Families

Jennifer Walch
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