World Alzheimer’s Day is a powerful awareness builder of this prevalent form of dementia. Held each year on September 21st, it focuses efforts to provide access to care, and the ability to continuously improve treatment. It also increases the momentum to discover a cure.
An estimated 24 million people globally, including 6.5 million in the United States, are currently suffering from the disease. Others affected by the hardship are the patient’s daily caregivers – typically including their family and friends. All need support, and Alzheimer’s Day echoes that message. #WorldMentalHealthDay
How to Raise Alzheimer's Awareness
Alzheimer's Day is a globally focused opportunity for behavioral health care professionals to address people’s misconceptions about dementia. It provides Alzheimer's and dementia associations to gain recognition and credibility for their support and research efforts. The awareness activities involve a conduit to opinion leaders and government policymakers to secure needed resources.
This is the time to spread the message that dementia is among the most severe of the health and social care crises that exist today. As populations’ median ages continue to rise, preparation for increased patient loads should be a notable healthcare priority.
The fight against the darkness of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) unites people around the world. From victims to caregivers, medical care to mental health practitioners, all share the same objectives.
Alzheimer's Day events provide a platform for mental health practices and providers can get involved to raise awareness. It’s a focused effort to educate their community about dementia’s memory loss and mental function difficulties, the effects and the care available today, for both patients and their caregiving families.
There are many involved in spreading the word. Alzheimer's and dementia associations around the world host educational activities and research fundraising campaigns. These bring attention to those in their community who are affected by AD and other types of dementia, many whom are seeking access to treatment.
For spreading awareness, healthcare professionals can share their impact through social media platforms and other promotional outreach channels they have, to reach those in their treatment area. Helping both people with Alzheimer’s and their caregiving family and friends with information on available treatment options is a valued community service.
Keeping people well-informed on the disease is often the first step toward a newly diagnosed patient getting a plan for care. To help behavioral health practices to share helpful strategies, using resources available from Alzheimer's Disease International will help craft an impactful local campaign.
Another effective option is to have treatment professionals volunteer with a local Alzheimer’s association chapter. These activities provide a visible way to share expertise and reach those seeking help for a loved one.
Care for Alzheimer's Caregivers
A helpful channel of treatment assistance available to behavioral health practitioners is to enable caregiving family and friends. Equipping these daily hands-on treatment resources to carry out the customized therapy plan is crucial for a patient’s success. The caregiver’s struggle is the continuous, physically, and emotionally draining tasks they perform. This is where support therapy is needed for these people to sustain this full-time job, along with supporting themselves and living healthy and enjoyable lives.
Caregivers need a therapy plan for themselves. The toll of advancing early-stage, middle-stage, and late-stage Alzheimer’s on the patient’s family grows exponentially over time.
AD is often referred to as a family disease. It’s a mental health issue affecting caregiving loved ones throughout the patient’s decline. Therapy helps these people, and their entire extended family, better understand the disease and develop coping skills through the process.
Helping caregivers to tend to their own needs, as well as their family patients, is a therapist’s challenge. Teaching them how to optimize their own health and encouraging them to actually take the steps to take care of themselves, is an ongoing complication. They need to prioritize themselves, and schedule time away from caregiving to maintain their own physical and mental health.
They also need AD education and resources to better understand their role. This will enhance what they experience during their therapy encounters. Caregiver communication training helps them to manage their patient’s unexpected behaviors. It will also reduce stress while improving physical health. Combining individual counseling and support group participation has been shown to enable the ability to manage to provide a longer duration of at-home care.
Automated Tools Helping Alzheimer's Practitioners
The growing need for behavioral health treatment for patients with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia requires practitioners to add additional capacity. Factor in treatment for caregivers, and the labor shortage increases the difficulty to add more resources.
Both problem and opportunity exist in this environment – automation enables an increase in the available encounter hours of their existing staff, without burning them out. It also reduces administrative workload and costs.
Automating functions including administrative patient management, encounter documentation, and reimbursement billing workload and workflow increases accuracy and improves cash flow. It also enhances patient and family caregivers’ experience with your staff, with convenient interaction through a dedicated patient portal.
To see the capabilities of a behavioral health-focused Electronic Health Records system (EHR), have a look.
Note: If you or a loved one needs immediate help, The Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline: 800.272.3900, is a free service supplying decision-making support and crisis assistance.