November is known as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. It has been estimated that more than 5 million Americans – the majority age 65 and older – are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but the disease’s symptoms can be treated.

It is important to note that Alzheimer’s and dementia are not one in the same. To clarify, Alzheimer’s is a specific disease and the most common cause of dementia. There are different types of dementia, with Alzheimer’s being one type of dementia that causes memory, behavior and cognitive problems. Symptoms eventually become severe enough to interfere with many activities of daily living.

The toll that Alzheimer’s takes on family caregivers is often overwhelming and they may experience significant financial and emotional difficulties. Along with the challenges that family caregivers face on a daily basis, they may also feel that they are all alone in their caregiving journey.

Support, Advice and Guidance

A Family Caregiver Support Program and an Alzheimer’s and Dementia support group can provide support, advice and guidance to caregivers and families. Old Colony Elder Services (OCES) is designated as one of 25 Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and offers both of these programs. The goal of the Family Caregiver Support Program is to reassure caregivers and families that they are not alone and that resources are available to assist them in their caregiving situation. This program provides one-on-one support to create a personalized plan outlining available resources (which includes OCES programs as well as community resources) that are applicable to their caregiving situation. These resources may include caregiver support groups as well as educational workshops or programs that share techniques to help family caregivers with stress reduction, time management, goal setting, problem-solving, relaxation and more.

The Alzheimer’s and Dementia support group is specifically for people caring for someone with memory impairment. Caregivers receive practical advice and are able to share their experiences. They also learn how to improve their coping skills and are able to gather strategies to deal with common challenges.  This group meets twice a month on Fridays at OCES’ Brockton Office.

Personalized, Therapeutic Music Program

Music & Memory is a non-profit organization that has conducted extensive research about the benefits of music. They have demonstrated that individualized playlists enhance the music experience for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Essentially, the music triggers an individual’s deeper memories which in turn enables them to reconnect and stay present. OCES is part of the network of Music & Memory certified providers.

OCES offers the Music & Memory program to family caregivers of adults of any age with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. OCES’ Family Caregiver Support Program works with family caregivers to develop playlists for their loved one and provides an iPod shuffle with a minimum of 100 songs, headsets, and training on how to use the iPod.

For more information about OCES’ Family Caregiver Support Program, Alzheimer’s and Dementia support group, or the Music and Memory Program call OCES at 508-584-1561.