January 20-- The administrator of a senior citizens home in Statesboro has advice for caregivers of Alzheimer's patients.
"Make sure you keep yourself healthy. If you get sick or anything happens to you, you're not helping the person you've got to care for. Be sure you take care of yourself with proper diet and exercise to include some time away from the person who has been diagnosed. Find another family member to help you out or do some respite care at a memory care unit," advised Chandler Dennard when he spoke to Vidalia Kiwanians Tuesday.
There is no cure yet for Alzheimer's and Dennard says there are signs to warn you of the disease, "A loss in short term and long term memory. Changes in behavior like something as simple as we're at the Kiwanis Club today and your loved one loved coming to the Kiwanis Club and now all of a sudden they forget they've got a meeting on Tuesday or all of a sudden they don't feel like going to the Kiwanis Club. That type thing, a change of behavior, is a clue that there's something just not right."
Dennard says the disease is usually well along by the time there is a diagnosis and urges family members to be proactive, "Have a hard conversation with the person who has been diagnosed and get all your affairs in order. Find a good doctor, someone who is experienced with the Alzheimer's diagnosis, and third, have a team in place. A team of people who are going to help you take care of that loved one, whether it be family members or a facility that has memory care, make sure you have that team available that is going to help you," he said.
Dennard has been director of the Willow Pond Senior Care Center in Statesboro for the past 12 years. Prior to that he was the head basketball coach at Brentwood Academy in Sandersville and Bulloch Academy.
For information on Alzheimer's, Dennard advises you go to www.alz.org.