Memory Care in Omaha 2017

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Memory Care in Omaha 2017

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, during which time we are called upon to learn more about this condition that has and will impact so many, and to support the individuals living with the disease and their caregivers.

Thanks to the efforts made by so many here in the Omaha Metro and beyond to support campaigns that raise awareness and funds to further research, we are collectively working towards gaining a better understanding of Alzheimer’s disease, and thus, towards finding a cure. Although there are still challenges ahead to be overcome in order to reach that goal, there has been marked progress. During which time, there have been many developments made with respect to specialized care and support services for individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

In observance, this month’s Memory Care feature story offers a compilation of information provided our local professionals who have extensive experience working in the field. We encourage you to educate yourself on the topic, as well as familiarizing yourself with the wide variety of resources found here in our community. We are privileged to live in a place where there are a wealth of excellent resources available for those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, their caregivers, and their families.

For the best possible outcome, having a professional to guide you through the process of finding the resources that match your specific needs now, and then as circumstances change, is advised.

Mary Ann Stallings-Bridge To Better Living

Mary Ann Stallings Bridge To Better Living

“When it comes to memory care communities, it’s important to understand that they are all different,” says Mary Ann Stallings with Bridge to Better Living. “Since each is unique in what it has to offer, knowing what is provided by the various facilities enables us to help families, at no charge, find the perfect fit for their loved ones. We work with all of the memory communities in Omaha, Lincoln, and surrounding areas, which allows us to offer comparisons that are tremendously helpful in making that decision. Utilizing our services is important to eliminate stress, time, and the personal emotional impact of finding the right community to meet your loved one’s personality and needs. Our transition consultants have personally been affected by family members with Alzheimer’s and have a connection with those who are presently on this journey.”

The importance of locating and utilizing the appropriate resources isn’t just specific to the individual with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease; it also applies to caregivers and family members. Stallings notes, “Studies have shown that the mortality rate for caregivers is higher than for the loved ones affected by dementia. A caregiver needs to take care of themselves physically and emotionally in order to provide quality care for their loved one. Some communities offer respite services and Bridge to Better Living consultants would know these facilities and prices. Another recommendation for respite care would be to apply for free care through an organization called Hilarity for Charity grant program. Applications may be made for free respite care for a considerable amount of time online at www.Hilarityforcharity.org.

Bridge to Better Living supports the mission of the American Alzheimer’s Association and is even a co-facilitator in a dementia support group. Loved ones need to become involved in a support group to realize they are not on this journey alone. This provides them an opportunity to connect with others who understand and have been through some of the same struggles.”

She concludes, “Alzheimer’s is no longer a family secret and people are becoming more aware, more informed and more willing to discuss it openly. Endless research continues to search for a cure. Dementia does not go away and family members need to have open discussions about the wishes of the member affected and how the different stages may affect the caregiver. At what point will taking care of the affected family member mean moving to a memory assisted living community? Not knowing what the journey is going to be, emotion may dictate decisions instead of what is best for each person impacted unless these issues have been previously discussed. Remember quality of life and safety are two of the most important issues for families affected by dementia or Alzheimer’s.”

Theron Ahlman CarePatrol of Nebraska - Headshot

Theron Ahlman
CarePatrol of Nebraska

In agreement on the importance of those two things, and the diversity that exists among resources related to memory care, Theron Ahlman with CarePatrol of Nebraska advises, “CarePatrol of Nebraska helps families who are affected by dementia or Alzheimer’s by assisting them when they need to find the safest and best care for their loved ones. In Nebraska, we have some really good memory care options, but those options are all different in many ways and that is where our expertise can come into play when helping our clients. For example, there are varying philosophies and approaches/techniques applied, size of the communities and amenities available varies, some have private rooms while others offer shared rooms, and so on. While one community might not necessarily be ‘better’ than the other per se, these things do make a difference depending on the individual’s specific needs and should be carefully considered before ultimately making a decision. We believe in being thorough and go so far as to review the state’s care and violation history prior to making any recommendations to ensure the safety and quality of care provided. Once we’ve narrowed down the search together, we then personally accompany the family on the tour to help them evaluate specific things and ask the right questions. Our goal is to make the process of finding the safest care possible be as easy as it can be while saving the family time and energy. There are a lot of different options out there, so even if you’ve noticed the slightest of changes in your loved one that you think may be cause for concern, we are here to help and you have nothing to lose by contacting us. Our services are 100% free to those we help, and you are welcome to get in touch with us directly at (402) 580-2116.”

Ahlman also emphasizes how beneficial respite care can be, stating, “Respite care is a supportive service that I highly recommend taking advantage of when the need arises. We meet so many families who are in crisis mode dealing with issues related to their loved one as well as those related to caregiver burnout. It’s a big problem that can be avoided by simply knowing the resources that are available and utilizing them.”

Kyle Johnson Care Consultants for the Aging - Headshot

Kyle Johnson Care Consultants for the Aging

Also encouraging those with loved ones affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s to learn more about the resources that are available locally, Kyle Johnson with Care Consultants for the Aging adds, “Caregiving for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can be a long journey. Many find themselves trying a variety of different services to manage both their physical and their mental healthcare needs. It is important to realize that even if you do not need a physical break as a caregiver, respite is still important to your mental health and overall wellbeing. Home care is a great way to line up breaks as you need them, helping with things like medical care, personal care, companionship, meals and light housekeeping. Our home care registry screens and refers caregivers who have experience working with clients who have memory issues for families to hire from one to 24 hours a day.

Care Consultants also produces the ElderCare Resource Handbook which provides a complete listing of senior services in the Omaha and Lincoln metro areas. It is available in print and can be viewed online at www.careconsultants.com. All too often, family members wait until they are in a crisis situation or worn down before they decide to ask for help. Researching the options that are available for those with memory needs can make these decisions much more manageable when that time comes.”

There’s much ground we still have to cover to get to the end goal of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, and we still have much to learn about dementia in general, but where there’s effort there’s progress. Even here locally, there are so many professionals that are dedicated to and passionate about providing the very best care and support services possible while research continues towards eradicating the disease. If you need assistance or simply want to learn more, please do not hesitate to reach out and ask.