Alzheimer’s and Dementia are progressive diseases that involve a patient and his/her family members and friends. There are a considerable amount of resources available in the local community.
To start, when a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he should be working closely with his family doctor. It is important to establish a good working relationship with the family doctor since there will be a lot of future interactions. Having the family doctor know the patient well can save a lot of headache in the future. Family members should also be introduced to the family doctor since they will have to work closely together to help the patient.
The patient themselves may join a local Alzheimer support group if the disease is in its early stages. These Early Stage Support Groups are able to provide an understanding environment for the patients and help them learn to live with their condition through discussions and activities. These groups are led by Alzheimer Society staff and trained volunteers.
As the disease progresses, family members and friends will have to get more involved. There are Caregiver Support Groups that will enable them to share their experience, frustrations and coping strategies.
Further support may be necessary as the patient’s level of functioning declines. There are a number of facilities have such Adult Day Care programs that are run by the local health organizations. For example, Vancouver Coastal Health funds ADC programs which for patients at various level of functioning. Access to ADC is quite easy. All that is necessary is having either the family doctor or caregiver contact the Central Intake phone line, and an Intake nurse will take down some basic information. Next, a case manager will be assigned; the case manager will contact the caregiver and family doctor for information and then recommend the appropriate program.
In more severe cases the patient may need to be admitted to secured facilities such as Special Care Units in a care home. There are a number of such facilities around town and the case manager can help to arrange for admissions.
In summary, there are a lot of resources available to an Alzheimer patient and their caregiver. A multi-disciplinary team approach involving the patient, family members, the family doctor, case manager and the Alzheimer Society of B.C. can enable the patient to stay functional for as long as possible.
These support groups may be contacted through the local Alzheimer Resource Centres:
Vancouver Main Branch
Alzheimer Society of B.C.
North Shore & Sunshine Coast
Alzheimer Society of B.C.