Ask an Angel: June 29, 2017

Our Ask An Angel correspondent is Arlene Petersen, Life Care Navigation Specialist in the area of senior home care.

Q. I have taken on the role of caregiver for my younger sister. he is only 54 and has been diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s Disease. She needs more care as her disease progresses. What are her options? What are my options?

A. We have seen more instances where Alzheimer’s is diagnosed at an early age. This is saddening as well as challenging for a family. My first recommendation in all cases it to make sure you are caring for yourself. Make time for you sense of wellbeing so you can pour into your sister’s life and needs. Second, begin to educate yourself on resources available to your sister. If she has had a medical diagnosis, you are on the right track. Contact your local area on aging to learn about resources. You may want to contact Social Security to learn how she may qualify for early benefits. Understanding the financial piece of the puzzle will help you set up services. A geriatric care manager can be someone you lean on for direction as well. Don’t be afraid to call on her church family and resources at your local hospital. Chaplains carry a wealth of knowledge and are overlooked as resources. Finally, contact a reputable in-home care agency that can help you with activities of daily living. A good agency can recommend an experienced professional who has working knowledge of the disease and how it affects someone. A caregiver can not only provide day to day assistance, but can also provide respite care, which enables you to catch up with your own personal and family life. Adult day-care services exist to help families who work outside the home. That service is just like it sounds: a daycare center for adults. Alzheimer’s disease can cause your sister to decline in health with depression or withdrawing from the things she used to like. Someone with Alzheimer’s needs to know they are valued and loved as well as cared for and safe.

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