Guest Editorial

Get out and socialize

Doctor advocates for more education during caregiver awareness month

November is National Family Caregiver Awareness Month, a time to recognize thousands of Minnesotans across the state who dedicate time, money and energy to caring for family members and friends, and to offer those caregivers help and resources.

In fact, more than 585,000 Minnesotans — one-tenth of the population — spend an average of 24 hours a week providing unpaid care for a loved one in need, many of whom suffer from Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementia.

The Alzheimer's Association estimates every 65 seconds someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s disease.

As part of National Family Caregiver Month, Dr. Daniel Trajano, Vice President and Medical Director of Population Health for Blue Cross Blue Shield, has advice for those whose loved ones have received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Trajano believes education is the key to combatting fear that often accompanies an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and that social interaction is vital to wellness, for both patient and caregiver.

Dr. Trajano suggests the following:

•Identify resources you might need down the road.

•Social interaction is vital to wellness — for both patient and caregiver.

•Social acuity is often heightened in people suffering from Alzheimer’s — so even if they struggle with remembering something from day to day, they are sensitive to mood, social tension and tone of voice.

In the case of repetitive questioning, try not to get frustrated with supplying the same answer repetitively.

Think of it this way — it’s less about the specific answer and more about showing your loved one your willingness to answer their questions.

The words might always be “It’s Monday, Mom,” but your tone of voice, eye contact and gestures can say, “Love ya mom.”

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