The explicit message of our recent and very successful subway ad campaign funded by a grant from the New York State Department of Health was, “It’s never too early or too late to ask for Alzheimer’s support.” The implicit message is that the timing of when to reach out for help is highly personal, both for the person who is diagnosed and his or her family.
Some go into action immediately, seeking help, looking for resources and information, and creating a plan. Others are not so quick to act for a variety of emotional and practical reasons. We are here to help find the right approach and resources for each individual and family.
Hearing the words “You have Alzheimer’s” has a profound emotional impact on the person diagnosed, as well as family members. Denial is a normal, and healthy, coping response to the diagnosis, allowing time to process the information, work through the initial challenge to a sense of self, and protect against feeling real terror. But if denial persists, it inhibits the process of getting help and support.
The feelings of guilt, fear, and anger may reinforce or get in the way of the need to get help. Fortunately, CaringKind’s staff is skilled in helping individuals process and understand the impact of a diagnosis and providing guidance for them to access critical resources. Although it is never too late to ask for help, there are several advantages to accessing CaringKind’s programs and services earlier rather than later. Here’s how you can get started:
Call our 24-hour Helpline at 646-744-2900. Often we hear that callers wished they had called sooner. Our expert Helpline Specialists provide a supportive ear, access to local programs, and introductions to the wide range of services offered by CaringKind, including our extensive education and training programs.
Enroll the person you are caring for in the MedicAlert® NYC Wanderer’s Safety Program. Enrollment is available free of charge to those who cannot afford the fee, and provides identification in case the person with cognitive impairment goes missing. As we often say, we need to hope for the best and plan for the worst. If the bracelet is worn, everyone can breathe a little easier. Without it, an episode of wandering is even more terrifying for families and friends and challenging for the police officers who are trying to help.
Begin long term care planning by speaking with a CaringKind Social Worker, and attend the educational meetings that explain the different care and respite options, as well as how to pay for them. This is best done when the individual still has capacity to participate in the discussions and make his or her wishes known. Although there are strategies to help with financing care at the time that it is needed, attending a Legal & Financial Seminar and meeting with an elder law attorney gives you both options and time to understand the complicated system of payment and access to long term care, as well as the opportunity to create a plan that is best for you and your family.
Participating in the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Early Stage Center provides persons with early stage Alzheimer’s and other dementias the opportunity to socialize with others going through the same experience and to engage in stimulating and enriching (not to mention, fun!) programs. Because the program is limited to those with a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment or early stage Alzheimer’s, the earlier you apply, the better.
Consider joining a support group even if you think it’s too early — or too late. Many caregivers say they wish they had joined earlier. The sense of relief, of being understood, and of community is powerful and healing.
Connect2culture® offers a wide range of art, music, dance and other cultural programs for persons with the disease and their family or paid caregivers. What a gift it is to experience the rich cultural variety of New York City in an environment that supports patrons with cognitive impairments, where no one has to be embarrassed or uncomfortable.
Remember all CaringKind programs are free of charge. You don’t have to face Alzheimer’s alone. It is never too early or too late. Call us at 646-744-2900 at any time to learn more about these programs or visit caringkindnyc.org. You’ll be glad you did.