Additional Funding to Fight Alzheimer’s Helps Family Caregivers Too

Great news in the fight to cure Alzheimer’s disease — more help is in the works toward a cure & support for current patients!

The U.S. Congress recently passed a bill increasing funds for Alzheimer’s research by $122 million. This bill was signed into law by the President shortly thereafter.

This money will not only support research but also outreach efforts, caregiver support and education.

Because there are 44 million people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia globally, 5 million of those here in the United States, the recent G8 Dementia Summit held in London stressed the importance of research into treatment and cure for this disease as a top priority throughout the world.

Did you realize that unpaid, family caregivers provided 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care in 2012?

Alzheimer’s Additional Funding Support Objectives

The increased funding will go to many areas that benefit current and future patients with Alzheimer’s as well as their family caregivers.

  • Research for therapies to treat Alzheimer’s sufferers
  • Research to find a cure
  • Research to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s dementia
  • Education for healthcare professionals

Objectives for funding are important, but what really makes a difference is where the money goes.

Alzheimer’s Additional Funding Allocation

This is how the additional funding established by Congress will be allocated.

  • $100 million increase to the National Institute on Aging for Alzheimer’s research, which will be added to the National Institutes of Health funding to now total $484 million.
  • $3.3 million to help support Alzheimer’s caregivers
  • $4 million to train healthcare professionals
  • $10.5 million to expand home and community based caregiver services
  • $4.2 million for outreach activities to raise awareness
  • The National Institute of Health BRAIN initiative will continue to receive $30 million for brain research that impacts more diseases in addition to Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s Funding: Meaning for Caregivers

As caregivers we look for opportunities to improve the quality of life for our senior loved ones and hopefully ourselves to continue to be caregivers as long as our help is needed. Here are some tips to help ease your journey. Hopefully this increased funding will trickle down to help you as a caregiver.

Find respite for yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, reach out to others — don’t wait for them to offer. People will be willing to help when asked but don’t really know how to offer or what they can do to fill a gap for you. Be ready with tasks that others can easily do for you. These can be small things like take out the garbage or big things like stay for a weekend so you can visit someone and truly rest. These helpers could be family members, friends, church groups or organizations that provide much needed help.

Seek out financial assistance. You may be entitled to benefits of which you are not taking advantage. Veteran’s benefits, insurance benefits, or local aging organizations may be able to offer you resources you could use. This could include senior center trips, transportation to events including doctor appointments, meals, financial help with medications, or possibly community in-home caregivers.

Participate in support groups. Attend local support group meetings. They often provide respite care for you to attend the meeting. Go online and participate in twitter chats with other people in your shoes. Join an online caregiver group or chat room. There are many family caregivers out there who can give you emotional support, knowledge of the disease process, tips for coping with the changes, and eventually a place for you to help others with your new knowledge and tips.

Learn about the disease and how to handle situations and decisions. The internet has a vast amount of information (beware of the misinformation!) about the disease, the stages, what to expect, treatment options, financial information, legal information and any number of other tidbits that can help you be a better caregiver. Don’t forget to check with your attorney, doctor or other professional if you have a specific question about your situation before you act on something you read online. Take advantage of caregiver training sessions either locally or online to learn new things. Check out books in the library or book store that can help you manage your journey.

Find out if in-home care will work for you. If you senior loved one qualifies or can afford paid caregivers (or if you can) for even some time during the week, it can help to make your day go more smoothly and take less of a long term physical toll on you.

Learn about placement options. Do this well ahead of when you might need a facility. An accident or change in condition could happen anytime and you need to be ready to make tough decisions when the time comes. Learning about which facility would meet your needs nearby, getting on a waiting list and arranging any details will help tremendously when the time is right.

Talk about end of life wishes and get them documented. This is another area that needs to be addressed well ahead of the time that decisions need to be made. Execute a living will, advance directives or other necessary documents and be sure all the family members know the details in case of an emergency.

We strongly believe that you are a precious resource as a family caregiver. You need support and assistance to continue to do the vital work you do every day.

We hope that you will get help. It sounds like getting help is just another job you have to accomplish in an already too busy day, but a few minutes here and there will make a difference in the long run for you and your loved one.

We are hoping that the increased federal funding, being designated not only for research for a cure but also care for current patients, will help family caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s.

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