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Help For Alzheimer Patients And Caregivers

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Franque Thompson

OMAHA (KPTM)- Every 68 seconds someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  That's a staggering statistic one Omaha family knows far too well.  However, help is available.

It's easy for Janet French to laugh about not remembering her age, but the reason she can't remember is no laughing matter.  French was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2007.  Doctors say it's an incurable disease that is deadly.

Patrick Bartness is her son and caregiver.  He said he understands what's to come of the disease and his mom.

"I learned to deal with the reality of the present rather than worry about what's going to happen in the future," said Bartness.

The Alzheimer's Association of the Midlands partnered with Immanuel Pathways to create the Caregiver 101 program.  It's an opportunity for caregivers to sharpen their skills while looking after a person who's losing their memory.

"We're really at epidemic proportions in our country and that number is growing.  Think of it like this—every 68 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's," said Viv Ewing, director of the Midlands Chapter of The Alzheimer's association.

Caregiver 101 starts July 9th.  Caregivers and their patients will get information on everything from behavior matters to legal or financial issues.

"Care givers are the unsung hero in the struggle with Alzheimer's disease. And they're needs need to be attended to as much as those suffering from the disease itself," said Eric Gurley, president of Immanuel.

Though Janet may forget things, she said she will always remember how to laugh.

"This is reality.  It's our reality. So we really need to work with it to the advantage of instead of as a detriment," said French.

Caregiver 101 will be held on Tuesdays from 5pm to 6:30pm at Immanuel Pathways, located at 5755 Sorensen Parkway.  To register for the class contact Betty Chin at 402-502-4301 or e-mail at bchin@alz.org.

fthompson@kptm.com

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