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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Lots of help offered for Alzheimer's caregiving

 •  Light within the dark

By Beverly Creamer

MEMORY WALK

5K (3.2 miles) timed run, the Alzheimer's Association's annual Hawai'i fundraiser

Sept. 8, Fisherman's Wharf

$30 fee for runners; non-runners may also participate by raising money

591-2771

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The Aloha Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association offers a number of resources to help families struggling with a loved one's decline into Alzheimer's disease.

  • The "Caregiver University What Now" series is a program of eight free classes to help caregivers know what to expect and how to handle the difficulties of a family member suffering from this decline of mental acuity, and perhaps even personality change. Classes are held once a week for an hour, and interested persons may attend all, or some.

    The schedule is available at www.alz.org/hawaii. Reservations: 591-2771.

  • A class covering "Understanding Challenging Behaviors" is scheduled for 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Sept. 9 in the association office, on the second floor of Ward Warehouse, 'Ewa end.

    "You have to almost become an Indiana Jones of the brain," says Janet Eli, the association's president and CEO. Sometimes, physical discomfort can bring on unpleasant behavior in a patient, and Eli says family members might try to ask if they're hurting, or what the matter is.

    "Another problem could be the environment too hot, too cold, too bright, too dark," she says. "Shadows make them think there are ghosts coming to hurt them."

    Alzheimer's patients are moving backward in time, says Eli, and their current environment may look totally unfamiliar.

    "The noise of the TV, music, all of this can cause disorientation and result in behavior outbursts," she says. "Sometimes loved ones try to orient them toward the present saying 'No, you live here now, sweetheart,' and if she says 'I want to go home,' you can say 'I remember your home ... I loved those lace curtains' and let her go off into describing a comfortable memory."

  • Support groups are available, and listed on the Web site. The association also has books and other resources on how to cope with difficult situations.

    Reach Beverly Creamer at bcreamer@honoluluadvertiser.com.