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New Program Helps People with Dementia, Caregivers

A new Dementia Care Services program through the Alzheimer’s Association is underway across North Dakota.

It is estimated that more than 18,000 North Dakotans have Alzheimer’s – a 13 percent increase in 10 years. There are more than 19,000 Alzheimer/dementia caregivers in the state who provide an estimated 22 million hours of unpaid care every year at a value of $255 million.

The new program offers care consultation and education services free of charge.

Consultation services can be accessed from a person’s home, no matter where in the state the person lives. Care consultants are ready and able to bring their services into homes and communities, depending on the preference of each individual. Care consultation includes an individualized assessment and care plan. Care consultants are also available to assist with problem-solving and behavioral intervention techniques.

In addition to care consultation, many educational opportunities are available to people across the state. Community education includes topics such as the warning signs of Alzheimer’s, early detection/diagnosis, and basics of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Specialized education for caregivers, both family and professional, is also provided and includes information on understanding communication and challenging behaviors, working with health care professionals, and strategies to ensure self-care of the caregiver. Learn more about educational opportunities in your area.

Another feature of the dementia care services program is telephone support groups for caregivers, which can be accessed toll-free from any location with a telephone. Telephone support groups provide a way for caregivers to gain support and education in an informal setting with other people who are caring for a loved one with dementia. There are three different day/time options each month. Please contact the Alzheimer’s Association’s Bismarck office at 701-258-4933 for more information and to register.

North Dakota is the first state in the nation to implement a statewide dementia education and care consultation program. It is the result of one of the most important pieces of legislation coming out of the 2009 North Dakota Legislature. The legislation appropriated $1.2 million for dementia care services.

The Aging Services Division of the North Dakota Department of Human Services awarded a contract to the Alzheimer’s Association for development and implementation of the statewide program. Five care consultants provide community education, outreach and care consultations, as well as networking with health care professionals and law enforcement to raise awareness and knowledge of dementia.

Each region of North Dakota served by a Human Service Center is also served by a care consultant with some of the care consultants covering more than one region. This has allowed for a significant increase in the number of people the Alzheimer’s Association can reach, especially those living in remote areas of the state.

This new program is an important advancement to help allow individuals the choice of remaining in their homes and communities as they age.

For more information, or to access care consultation services, please contact the Alzheimer’s Association Regional Centers in Bismarck (701-258-4933) or Fargo (701-277-9757).

For a brochure on the program, please e-mail aarpnd@aarp.org or call toll-free 1-866-554-5383.

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