Caregivers find comfort during Alzheimer’s Walk &Education Fair

Published 9:47 pm Sunday, October 10, 2010

Staff Writer

When it comes to Alzheimer’s Disease, most experts agree that effective treatment starts with education and exercise.
Both were available at the Alzheimer’s Walk and Education Fair at the Improved Order of the Redmen Tau Tribe #18 building Saturday.
The event, organized by Alzheimer’s North Carolina, Inc., provided information and support for families in eastern North Carolina coping with Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias.
Dr. Irene Hamrick, who specializes in geriatric family medicine at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine, was on hand to announce a research grant from the John and Harriet Wooten Laboratory for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Disease Research.
“There are so many people involved with treating and supporting someone with Alzheimer’s,” Hamrick said. “From the caregivers to the doctors, pharmacists, physical therapists, occupational therapists and the public.”
The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office offered support to caregivers through its Care Trak Program. Patients are fitted with a battery-powered transmitter on a wristband that proves critical if they become lost and disoriented. Deputies use a receiver to locate the patient and return them home.
“The one great challenge is getting people to use it,” Sheriff Alan Jordan said. “It greatly increases the odds of getting (the patient) back safely and quickly. And it is not just for Alzheimer’s patients but anyone with cognitive issues.”
The only cost to the patient and caregiver is roughly $10 a month for a new wrist strap and battery.
“People will wander and they are not seen again,” Jordan said. “It is much more cost effective but whatever the cost, we need to spend it to get them back safely.”
Caregivers at the fair received critical information about diagnosis, treatment and behavior management of Alzheimer’s patients from social service agencies, legal aid professionals, home health agencies and nursing home representatives.