By Samara Elias, MSW, LSW
As a social worker, I’ve listened to caregivers of people with dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease proclaim that they’d love to talk with someone in the government about the many issues involved with caring for their loved one.
On Wednesday, April 8th
, Parker had the honor of hosting Congressman Frank Pallone for “Coffee with Your Congressman” in the Cottage. This program, facilitated by the Greater New Jersey Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, provides an opportunity for caregivers supporting a family member with a diagnosis of dementia to have a dialogue with one of his or her elected officials and share their story about caregiving. Four of the seven caregivers in attendance came from Parker’s continuum of care services, representing different stages in the disease process and in the caregiving journey. Congressman Pallone, who has long been an advocate for older adults and has dedicated much of his career to healthcare initiatives, heard a collection of stories which highlighted the diversity of a dementia diagnosis as well as challenges that are universal.
One such challenge demonstrated by their stories was the struggle that caregivers face in the early stages of the disease – not knowing where to turn for support, answers or care planning. One participating caregiver pointed out that while his wife received a prescription commonly given for Alzheimer’s disease, he did not recall the doctor giving him and his wife a diagnosis at that time. A caregiver with a family member utilizing Parker’s Adult Day Center spoke about the many different paths that she and her family tried before discovering the day program, saying:
“I know that families need to be handed more than a prescription when given an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. It is my sincere desire that caregivers be given appropriate guidance to ensure optimal care for their loved ones and appropriate support for themselves.”
The morning also provided an opportunity to make Congressman Pallone aware of the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act, which is supported by the Alzheimer’s Association and will be coming across the desk of your local Congressmen and Congresswomen. One goal of the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act is to allow for care planning services to be covered by Medicare, addressing this current gap in services identified by these and so many other caregivers across the country.
For more information on the Hope for Alzheimer’s Act, please visit: http://act.alz.org/site/DocServer/hope_for_alz_fact_sheet.pdf?docID=3021