A small but energetic group of volunteers involved with the Idaho Alzheimers Planning Group is developing a state plan to help Gem State residents better understand the disease and get the help they need in caring for their loved ones.
But theyre not waiting to start promoting existing and new resources and events.
NEED HELP? CALL 2-1-1 IDAHO CARELINE
In a statewide survey last year, those confronting Alzheimers issues said Idaho needs one well-publicized number to call for information on services and resources.
The CareLine offers health and human service referrals. Its greatest volume of calls is from people looking for information about welfare, child care and Medicaid benefits, said Becky Baird, who works at the call center on Fairview Avenue.
People who call can ask to get information mailed. If they wish to speak to someone immediately, theyre connected to a care consultant at the Alzheimers Association. Dial 2-1-1 or 1-800-926-2588.
Few Idahoans know the CareLine provides referrals for Alzheimers, but that low profile is about to change.
The Alzheimers Planning Group enlisted public relations students at Boise State University to develop a marketing plan and asked Gov. Butch Otter to be in public service announcements.
Otter is receptive, an aide said, and TV and radio ads could be recorded soon.
QUESTIONS ADDED TO STATE HEALTH SURVEY
Each year, states survey residents on health-related issues, including access to care, health behaviors and chronic conditions.
The yearlong phone survey of 7,000 Idaho residents up to 140 questions that take an average of 25 minutes to complete has never included questions about cognitive impairment.
But they are included in the 2013 survey that began Jan. 5, according to state health department spokeswoman Niki Forbing-Orr.
The Alzheimers Association offered to cover the $15,000 cost of adding the questions to the list.
This will help us identify the true need in the state, said MacKenzie Rodgers, director of the Boise-based Greater Idaho Chapter Alzheimers Association.
MOM HAS ALZHEIMERS. NOW WHAT?
One of the things the Idaho Alzheimers Planning Group learned from informal surveys and discussions with caregivers around the state last year was that families dont know what to do when a physician tells them a loved one has the disease.
What we heard was, They dont give me any info on what to do, or where to call, said Mike Berlin, a spokesman for the planning group.
To help remedy that, Boise State biology professor and researcher Troy Rohn has begun giving talks to Treasure Valley physicians about progress in developing treatments for Alzheimers, including drug trials. He also provides physicians with handouts on local resources to give to patients.
FAMILY CAREGIVER CONFERENCE SATURDAY
Friends in Action provides support to seniors who want to live independently. It also supports caregivers.
The nonprofits services include a six-week caregiver course. The group recruits volunteers backgrounds are checked to provide household help and respite relief to family caregivers who need a few hours off.
The groups first Family Caregiver Conference, in September 2011, drew a sell-out crowd of 250. The event moved to Boise State University this year and organizers hope to double the number of participants.
The conference on Saturday isnt just for those caring for someone with Alzheimers/dementia, but thats a component.
The conference costs $15 (includes lunch); its 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the BSU Student Union building, University and Lincoln avenues. Park in the Lincoln garage. To register, call 333-1363.
Cant make the conference? The Idaho Commission on Aging is offering a free online workshop. Building Better Caregivers starts on Monday. Call (208) 991-5607 to register.
NEW SUPPORT GROUP
In October, the Statesman profiled an informal Alzheimers caregiver support group called the Steel Magnolias.
Members are women whose husbands have Alzheimers or other dementias. They meet monthly at the Boise home of Jerri Stanfield, executive director of Alzheimers Idaho.
After the October story, Stanfield said many more people wanted to join the group.
Stanfield limited the size of the Steel Magnolias to about 10 to keep it intimate, so she helped form a second group in Eagle. Most of those members live in the Eagle area.
Members of the original group met with the new group to offer support. If you want to start or join a group, call Stanfield at 914-4719 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
BOISE CHAPTER, ALZHEIMERS ASSOCIATION
In October, the Walk to End Alzheimers in Boise drew more than 700 people and raised $56,000 for education programs and services.
This years walk is tentatively set for Saturday, Oct. 5 its subject to change depending on Boise States home football schedule.
The Alzheimers Associations Greater Idaho office is at 6126 W. State St., Suite 305. Theres not much foot traffic; most inquiries come by phone.
Have questions? Call Rodgers at 206-0041 or the Alzheimers Associations helpline at 800-272-3900.
Theyll say, Mom keeps asking the same question over and over again on the phone. We feel like shes not taking her medication regularly, Rodgers said.
Some callers say a loved one is showing signs of dementia and they dont know what to do.
We encourage families to pursue diagnosis, Rodgers said. Have brain scans done to make sure thats what it really is. There are 28 different kinds of dementia, and not all forms are incurable.
Once diagnosed, its important to plan for their future care. Families who wait too long to discuss these issues often get entangled in disagreements, she said.
One thinks mom needs to go into a home, and the other thinks mom is fine, Rodgers said.
Katy Moeller: 377-6413