Program gives support to dementia caregivers

April 12, 2012 10:05:57 AM PDT
There is no cure for Alzheimer's or dementia but there's support available to help you and your family deal with this condition.

Three years ago, the Alzheimer's Association created a program called Care Navigation. It helps both patients and their families solve problems.

Kathleen Hotton's husband was diagnosed at 71 with Alzheimer's.

He lived with it for about 7 years," she said.

Kathleen remembered her husband was a charming man who loved to travel.

"After he was diagnosed, we traveled everywhere around the world and people loved him and he loved them and we just had a wonderful time," she said. "I was afraid at one point that he might fall into the canals of Venice and that was the end of our trip. It became a little dangerous."

When Kathleen started volunteering at the Alzheimer's Association Greater Chicago Chapter, she learned about a new program called Care Navigation.

Danielle Dodson is the program's clinical supervisor.

"We help them with care planning for the future," Dodson said. "This is a short term service, so typically we're meeting with for between one and three appointments.

"We talk often about adjusting to the diagnosis, emotionally but also how you may need to change your daily life. How communication can change between a person with dementia and their family and others in their lives.

"Often times, families just come in for a single appointment just to kind of get the ball rolling on care planning and kind of help open the door to get connected to other resources and supports."

There is a fee for services. There is a variety of payment options. Appointments can be billed to insurance or there is financial assistance available for hardship cases.

Nancy Rainwater, vice president of communications, said the program is going well.

"I can't really say it prolongs their life, but it can make their quality of life much better as you say finding the right care, the right activities for them," Rainwater said.

To learn more about Care Navigation, visit or call 1-800-272-3900.