The holidays are often joyous occasions and celebrations filled with families coming together from near and far. It may also be a time when extended family members and friends first notice cognitive changes in a loved one they don’t see on a regular basis.
While traditional holiday gatherings and celebrations may take on a different look this year with coronavirus safety measures, the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline remains a vital resource for families who may be experiencing memory changes with a loved one, or are unable to visit them in a care community.
Answering the call
Answering more than 300,000 calls each year, the association’s 24/7 Helpline — a free, nationwide service — offers around-the-clock support for people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia, their family caregivers, and the public.
Master’s-level clinicians and specialists provide callers with confidential guidance, resource referrals, crisis assistance and emotional support. Callers can be connected to community resources and programs for ongoing support through the Association’s network of local chapters across the country.
“Many people may face a special sense of loss this holiday season, particularly as family celebrations take on new virtual forms and smaller sizes this year,” said Monica Moreno, senior director of care and support for the Alzheimer’s Association. “Under normal circumstances, Alzheimer’s can be an isolating disease. With the added challenges of the current pandemic, caregivers are taking on more and more demanding responsibilities, and no one should face this disease alone.”
A wide impact
Alzheimer’s is a disease that impacts the entire family. Today, there are more than 5 million Americans living with the disease and over 16 million family members and friends providing an estimated $244 billion of unpaid care and support to people living with the disease, according to Alzheimer’s Association 2020 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.
In addition, twice as many dementia caregivers report significant emotional, financial and physical difficulties as opposed to caregivers for people without dementia. Layered with navigating holiday traditions and the COVID-19 pandemic, the burden on caregiving is taking an extraordinary and devastating toll on caregivers. The Alzheimer’s Association is here to help wherever and whenever people are most comfortable accessing information and support.
The 24/7 Helpline can be reached at 1-800-272-3900. In addition, people can visit alz.org for information, and virtual and phone-based programs and resources, and to locate a local Alzheimer’s Association chapter.