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Alzheimer's Carers Give Kiwi Families Peace Of Mind

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Home Instead Senior Care.jpg
Home Instead Senior Care.jpg


The challenges and stresses of caring for someone with Alzheimer's will be top of mind for tens of thousands of Kiwi families on World Alzheimer's Day, Sunday 21st September 2008.

Currently an estimated 40,000 people suffer from dementia but that number is rising with our aging population.

Alzheimer's is the most common form of the illness, affecting around 30,000 New Zealanders by impairing their memory, thinking and behaviour.

Remaining in familiar surroundings and finding the right carer for someone with Alzheimer's is imperative as the combination can elevate someone's distress if they are disorientated.

Home Instead Senior Care's managing director, Neil Farnworth of Hamilton, says most families have the best intentions in the world and take on board caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's themselves. But the role is usually thank-less, incredibly stressful and unpaid.

To assist families in this situation, Home Instead Senior Care caregivers recently completed a training programme which covers the latest international techniques in caring for someone with Alzheimer's.

The CAREGiver Training Programme has been run in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Palmerston North and Christchurch. It was developed in America by Home Instead Senior Care's parent company and The George Glenner Centre, a leading Alzheimer's Research facility in San Diego, California.

The late Dr. George G. Glenner, a world-renowned pathologist, research physician and professor at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine, was the first to find a cause for Alzheimer's disease. In 1984 he isolated and identified a body protein which he named the "beta amyloid protein," part of the larger body protein called amyloid. This amyloid segment collects in the brain of persons with Alzheimer's disease and causes the brain cells to die.

Home Instead Senior Care's US office went onto receive the American Society on Aging (ASA) Small Business of the Year Award for developing its Alzheimer's CAREGiver Training Programme. This is the highest honour the ASA bestows on a private company.

Mr Farnworth says central to the programme is lengthening the amount of time people with Alzheimer's remain at home.

"At present family caregivers provide most of the care for their loved ones at home who are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease," says Mr Farnworth.

"But this can be a difficult and emotional job and one that gradually consumes more time for family caregivers as the disease progresses. A lack of social support systems often leads to premature admission to care facilities for individuals with Alzheimer's disease.

"Our carers have been trained to provide one-on-one care for individuals with Alzheimer's and related dementias allowing their families to take a well deserved break while knowing their loved ones are in safe and caring hands."

Topics covered in the programme included Maintaining Independence with Dignity and Respect; Maintaining a Safe Environment; Managing Changing Behaviours: Providing Nutritious Meals; Providing Mind-Stimulating Activities; Creating Social Interaction; Supervised Daily Activities.

Mr Farnworth says the programme provides families around the country, who are looking for home care for an elderly relative, added peace of mind.

"It is hard to imagine the stress a family experiences as it slowly loses a loved one to memory loss," he says, "and sadly, many families simply do not know where to go for help. The emotional and physical demands on family caregivers can be overwhelming and these are not isolated incidents."

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