Why everyday is the ‘Longest Day’ for families living with Alzheimer’s

By Carrie Dunkley
Guest Columnist

There are over 100,000 Minnesotans living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia today. As the Baby Boomer generation ages, those numbers are expected to increase significantly over the next 40 years. And for all of those Alzheimer’s patients, there are hundreds of thousands of Minnesota families taking care of a parent, grandparent, spouse or loved one who has been diagnosed with this tragic disease.

Taking care of a family member living with Alzheimer’s is no easy task, and can be an enormous physical and emotional strain on a family. Family caregivers frequently report high levels of stress which can be harmful for both themselves and the person they’re caring for. The day-to-day demands, tough decisions and unexpected emergencies that come up when dealing with Alzheimer’s is sometimes more than any one person can handle.

That’s why the Alzheimer’s Association created The Longest Day, a nationwide event that symbolizes how everyday for Alzheimer’s patients and those taking care of them can feel like the “longest day.” Each year on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, teams from all over the world participate in various events to fundraise for Alzheimer’s research and honor the strength and endurance of those who suffer from it and the people who take care of them.

If you are one those hundreds of thousands of family caregivers throughout Minnesota, or the tens of millions throughout the country, it’s important to remember that it’s OK to ask for help. Which is why many families will work with professional caregivers, so they don’t feel like they have to carry the burden of looking after a loved one with Alzheimer’s all on their own. A home care agency can also provide professional care management services and personalized support that can drastically improve the quality of life for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and their families.

As a member of the Home Care Assistance team here in Edina, I’ve seen the impact that professional caregivers can have on families with aging relatives, especially those dealing with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Our company is a leading provider of in-home care and an expert in brain health. We help seniors live well at home through activities designed to boost mental acuity to potentially delay the onset and progression of symptoms of cognitive decline. Studies have also shown that patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia who regularly receive cognitive stimulation have an improved quality of life and are able to communicate and interact better than they were before undergoing treatment.

Alzheimer’s affects nearly 50 million people worldwide, and over 15 million family members provide some level of Alzheimer’s or dementia care. I know that number might sound intimidating, but there are some things all of us can do right here in Minnesota! June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month and you can to take the “purple pledge” to support those living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias by wearing purple at the office, at school or at church.

You can also join us on at the Brandon Square Mall in Edina on June 20th to commemorate The Longest Day, the Alzheimer’s Association’s second largest signature event in the country. There will be food trucks, live music, activities from Home Care Assistance to promote brain health and experts from the Alzheimer’s Association discussing the latest in Alzheimer’s research. Donations and a portion of the event’s proceeds will help support the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

To learn more about the event go to: http://bit.ly/1TTMdEJ

Carrie Dunkley is an Edina resident and Community Liaison at Home Care Assistance