Support groups available for Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers

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For those who have an Alzheimer’s diagnosis or have a family member living with the disease, life can sometimes feel overwhelming and isolating. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia can present exhausting challenges that take a significant toll on caregivers’ physical and mental health. The Alzheimer’s Association 2018 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures points to the growing financial, physical and emotional toll on Alzheimer’s caregivers.

“There are 380,000 Texans living with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Kathy Spetter, care consultant and support group specialist with the Houston & Southeast Texas chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. “We have 1.4 million caregivers in the state of Texas who provided 1.6 billion hours of unpaid care last year. A recent national poll found that 42 percent of dementia caregivers provided an average of nine hours of care per day. Twenty-seven percent of those caregivers delayed or neglected to do the things they should for their own health.”

Support groups can give caregivers the assistance and reassurance they might need to manage stress and take time for their own much-needed care. Alzheimer’s Association caregiver support groups provide a consistent and caring place for people to learn, share and gain emotional support from others who are also on the unique journey of caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease.

“A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is comparable to beginning a trip down the road without a map,” said Anne Matta Wilson, Sealy support group facilitator.

The Sealy support group meets on the second Wednesday of each month from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at St. John Episcopal Church, 515 Meyer St., Sealy. To find out more information or to register, call 800-272-3900.

Finding a support group to share stories with, seek advice from or simply have other caregivers available to listen on a regular basis can help lower stress and alleviate the health risks that dementia caregivers may face.

“An Alzheimer’s Association support group provides people who are walking ahead of you leaving markers of wisdom and others who walk beside you helping you find answers to your questions,” Wilson said. “The purpose of the caregiver support group is to bring people together to learn, empathize and encourage those in the various stages of caregiving.”

Support groups also provide information on community resources for Alzheimer’s education, local facilities and service caregivers may need, and other programs and information that can ease the workload.

If you or someone you know is dealing with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, please call 800-272-3900. The Alzheimer’s Association helpline is available for free in more than 200 languages.

Alzheimer’s is not a part of normal aging; it’s a progressive, fatal disease. Today it’s the sixth leading cause of death in Texas. It is the only cause of death in the top 10 in the U.S. that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.

The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s research, care and support. Its mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. They are the brains behind saving yours.

For more information call 800-272-3900 or visit alz.org/texas.

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