ElderLaw News — The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. — MD, VA, DC
ElderLaw News

ElderLaw News is a weekly e-newsletter that brings you reports of legal developments and other trends of vital interest to seniors and their advocates. This newsletter is brought to you by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., William S. Fralin, Esq., President., William S. Fralin, Esq., President.

Alzheimer’s Support Groups

If you are newly diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, don’t lose heart.

A new phenomenon is springing up all around the country to help those in the early stages of the disease. Support groups for those in the early stages are popping up everywhere, especially around cities. From Minneapolis to Washington State to New York City, the groups have different names but they all exist to engage the newly-diagnosed with opportunities to socialize and keep active as the participants adjust and learn to live with their disease.

It happened in this way to Kennard Lehmann, formerly of Sacramento, CA who now lives in Minneapolis, MN. He and his wife moved to Minneapolis shortly after his diagnosis to be closer to their daughter. The move turned out to have the beneficial effect of finding a support group for those in the early stages of Alzheimer's. The group gets together to go on outings to museums, concerts, and to focus on the things that they can still do. It emphasizes the positive and not the negative. Initially, when given the diagnosis, he was told a list of things he shouldn’t do–don't drive at night (sundown syndrome might affect you), don't try to balance your checkbook, etc. At group meetings, the individuals share their experiences, and it comforts them to know that they are not alone in their journey with Alzheimer's.

The Museum of Modern Art (NYC) established a group called "Meet Me at MoMa" in 2006 for those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and this group includes the caregivers. The program has been adopted by other museums across the country and abroad. In Chicago, the Memory Ensemble provides get-togethers in a theatrical atmosphere. In San Diego, a group plans outings for locales in the area to restaurants, animal shelters, and the zoo. The goal is to keep those with the disease stimulated and active for as long as possible.

The national Alzheimer's Association is following these models and has established groups like the ones above: 18 chapters in 14 states. The initiative has been so successful that they are making the program available nationwide. A feature of their program is peer-to-peer coaching in which someone with Alzheimer's advises someone who is newly diagnosed.

So the good news is that there are resources available to help those with the disease. What also can be done is to continue to support research efforts that are trying valiantly to find a way to treat the disease so it is not so debilitating in its final stages.

(Source = Judith Graham, "After the Diagnosis, the Get-Togethers," The New York Times, March 29, 2013)

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