(T-G photo by Jim Davis) [Order this photo]
In a session held at Bedford Drug on North Main Street, several local residents were briefed on the early signs of the disease and completed a series of questions and tasks designed to test memory, language skills, thinking ability and other intellectual functions.
"Memory screenings are a significant first step toward finding out if a person may have a memory problem," said Joyce Adams, director of the non-profit.
"A memory screening is not used to diagnose any particular illness and does not replace consultation with a qualified physician, although it is very helpful. It can check a person's memory and other thinking skills, and can indicate if someone might benefit from a more complete medical visit."
Some memory problems can be readily treated. In general, the earlier the diagnosis, the easier it is to treat one of these conditions.
Caregiver Relief currently serves 17 families in the area. "We know there are more families that are affected by Alzheimer's disease in our area and could use our free service,"
The challenges faced by caregivers of Alzheimer's patients are many. Day centers for adults can be expensive, or a facility may have an approach which seems too clinical, or may be out of line with the approach a family has chosen.
Incorporated in 1993, the program has developed into a home-based medical care giving ministry. A non-profit charitable organization, it exists to assist the caregivers of persons with Alzheimer's.
Adams, an RN, has been the program's director -- and only employee -- for about six years now.
When she visits, she quietly assesses the participant and the caregiver. She checks basic vital statistics, listens to the family's needs. She can offer referrals and arrange for free respite visits for the caregiver.
"Our program is also unique in that we are the only program in Tennessee that provides free nursing visits in the home," said Adams. "There are approximately 800 people in Bedford County identified with dementia.
"Statistics show that with the assistance of a program like the CGRPBC persons with dementia are able to remain in their home about one year longer than without support," she said.
Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer's live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.
If you or a loved one have questions or require assistance, or for more information, visit www.caregiverreliefbedfordco.org/home or call (931) 685-9039. Donations may be addressed to: P.O. Box 584, Shelbyville, TN 37162.